A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge heard an appeal Wednesday of a decision by the province's environment minister to grant an exploratory oil and gas drilling permit in Cape Breton.

The appeal is being launched by the Margaree Environmental Association, which contends the minister erred in approving the permit near Lake Ainslie.

The citizens' group wants the decision allowing Toronto-based Petroworth Resources to drill a conventional test well quashed.

Group co-chairman Neal Livingston said the legal argument will centre on environmental restrictions that prohibit drilling within 100 metres of a water course.

Rebecca Parkins's home sits 250 metres from the West Lake Ainslie site where Petroworth wants to drill.


Rebecca Parkins said she and other Lake Ainslie residents are concerned about drilling near her home.

"There is a running waterway beside the drilling site. They're calling it a drainage ditch, we're calling it a stream," Parkins said, "And whatever it is, it's still water running into the lake, that is our concern."

"It's a big concern," Parkins said, "Our wells are right there, our animals are right there, there's a family with three small children."

Parkins home is not the closest. Another house sits just 41 metres from the site.

The province currently does not have regulations in place dictating how close rigs can be to homes and wells.

But because of recent concerns over hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, rules are in development.

Environment Department spokeswoman Karen White said the department won't comment ahead of the judge's decision.

The province has previously said it responded to public input and believes it has set the necessary conditions to protect the environment and public health.

With files from the Associated Press