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Decision to Mine Denniston Avoids Public Process

8am Thursday 23 May 2013

Decision to Mine Denniston Avoids Public Process

Conservation Minister Nick Smith will make a decision later today to allow opencast coal mining on the Denniston Plateau, just one day before he would have had to consult the public on the proposal.

“Nick Smith is going to say yes to mining our high-value conservation land today,” said West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves. “And he doesn't want you or I to have any say in that.”

“Three years ago the National Government ceded to public outrage, after 40,000 marched down Queen Street in Auckland. They promised public consultation for significant mining proposals on conservation land,” she added. “That legislation will finally come into force on Friday, a lone positive change in the environmental disaster that was the Crown Minerals Act review.”

“Nick Smith's decision today will obviously be a rushed decision made simply to avoid public consultation,” she adds. “Open cast mining on high-value conservation land is not something the public of New Zealand support, and the Government knows that.”

Australian company Bathurst Resources put in a revised access arrangement application just two months ago, in which they shrank their mine pit area by one-third and promised a shorter mine life and narrower road. According to the application, which has been released under the Official Information Act, changes mean the miner's water treatment system will be 'more likely to manage storm surges'.

“With it's low predator pressure and high biodiversity, the Denniston Plateau is actually just an inappropriate place for an opencast coal mine,” says Ms Hargreaves.

West Coast Environment Network, alongside the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, is party to ongoing appeals to the Environment and High Courts challenging resource consents issued to the company. The group is also awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court on declarations sought last year by Bathurst and state-owned Solid Energy, claiming that climate change considerations can't be taken into account in issuing coal mining consents.


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