It has been 14 months since Nordic Aquafarms officials announced that the company wanted to build one of the world’s largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast.
But it has not been smooth sailing for Nordic, which has become a lightning rod for protests and even lawsuits from opponents, who criticize the $500 million project as too big, too untested and generally too ill-suited for the quirky midcoast city.
Despite the opposition, though, the Norwegian-owned company is slowly moving forward with its permit applications and will hold another public information meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, at the Hutchinson Center. The meeting is required before Nordic can submit its Site Location of Development Act (SLODA) and Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) permit applications to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which the company is planning to do next month.
But it is more than just a requirement to Marianne Naess, Nordic’s director of operations.
“I do hope that we see a broad attendance of people from Belfast, not only opponents,” she said Wednesday. “And show all the substantial work that we have done to ensure that we are compliant and that this is a good facility for Belfast.”
She said that she and her husband, Erik Heim, the company’s CEO, recently issued a question-and-answer document to neighbors and city officials in an effort to clear up some of the rumors and inaccuracies they said they have heard about the project.
“We realize that any new developments should result in questions and sometimes concerns in a community. We have truthfully answered questions and put information out there over the past year as it has become available,” Heim wrote. “And yet, there are people in Belfast who choose to put aside our answers, credible scientific assessments from leading environmental institutions, and a unique opportunity for sustainable economic development in Belfast. Significant misinformation is being put out there.”