An opinion provided to the P.E.I. government on a moratorium on high-capacity wells by its environmental advisory council is confidential, says Environment Minister Janice Sherry.

Janice Sherry - custom

Environment Minister Janice Sherry told the Legislature there is no report on high-capacity wells from the environmental advisory council. (Province of P.E.I.)

Opposition MLA James Aylward is pressing the government to publish the information.

The government placed a moratorium on high-capacity wells for agricultural irrigation in 2001, but the P.E.I. Potato Board has asked the government to reconsider. Aylward said the government needs to be more open with the information it is receiving on the issue.

"It's very obvious this minister is being lobbied to lift the moratorium. This is way too much of a very important issue," he said.

"I mean here on P.E.I. we have one source, only once source, of consumable drinking water. If this gets screwed up we have no recourse. It's gone."

Aylward has asked Sherry to give the Opposition what he called a report from the environmental advisory council, which is appointed by cabinet to advise the minister on environmental issues.

Sherry told the legislature Wednesday there is no report. Outside the house, she told reporters she had heard opinions from members of the council, but she is not willing to share them.

"I didn't get their opinions in the context that they would become public. They gave them to me, so that I could just have a look at their response to the idea of lifting the moratorium," she said.

James Aylward - custom

Water is too important an issue for the government to withhold information, says Tory MLA James Aylward. (Province of P.E.I.)

"I think it's important to keep that confidential,"

Sherry went on to say she is not sure what role, if any, the environmental advisory council might play in deciding whether to lift the moratorium.

CBC News reached advisory council chair Richard Davies, who declined to be interviewed. He did say the council had provided information to the minister and that, "It's a confidential document and it's in her hands."

Farming is the only industry affected by the moratorium. The government is still accepting applications from other industries.

For mobile device users: Should the government release the opinions of the environmental advisory council on high-capacity wells?