HALIFAX - Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is defending BP Canada's plans to drill an exploration well roughly 330 kilometres off the coast of Halifax.

On Saturday, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board granted the oil and gas company permission to start drilling.

McKenna touched on the issue briefly on Sunday during a press conference for the federal government's new public consultation platform on plastics and waste.

She said BP's project has undergone a strict environmental assessment and will be carefully monitored as it proceeds.

McKenna said the government cares greatly about the oceans and pointed to Canada's 1.5 billion dollar oceans protection plan, launched in November 2016, as an example.

The offshore petroleum board's decision to grant BP Canada permission to proceed has received backlash from the Council of Canadians, who say the government needs to move away from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy.