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Trans-Tasman Resources iron sand mining consent refused

Decision released on Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd marine consent application

18 June 2014

The EPA Decision-making Committee has today released its decision on the application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd for a marine consent for its iron sand mining project in the South Taranaki Bight. The Decision-making Committee has refused consent.

In its decision the Committee said the major reason was uncertainty around the scope and significance of the potential adverse environmental effects, and those on existing interests (such as the Fishing Interests and Iwi).

It was not satisfied that the life-supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded or that the adverse effects of the proposal could be avoided, remedied or mitigated, given the uncertainty and inadequacy of the information presented.

The application for a marine consent was the first to be processed by the EPA under the new Exclusive Economic Zone legislation which took effect in June last year.

The EPA’s Chair Ms Kerry Prendergast thanks the Decision-making Committee for its consideration of the application which involved complex issues and a large volume of information and public submissions.

The committee received 4850 submissions and held hearings in Wellington, Hamilton, Whanganui, Pariroa Marae (Hawera) and New Plymouth during the course of the 25-day hearing.

There is a 15-working day period for the lodgement of any appeals to the High Court which can be made on points of law only.

The Decision-making Committee’s full decision is available on our website: http://www.epa.govt.nz/EEZ/trans_tasman/decision/Pages/default.aspx
[Trans_Tasman_Resources_decision_17June2014.pdf]

ENDS

Background notes

The EPA is responsible for managing the effects of specified restricted activities on the environment in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf under the EEZ Act 2012. The EPA considers applications for marine consents, monitors compliance, carries out enforcement, and promotes public awareness of the requirements of the EEZ Act and associated regulations.

The EPA Board appoints and delegates to decision-making committees the statutory authority to hear, consider and make decisions on marine consent applications.

Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR) sought a marine consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 ( the EEZ Act) to undertake iron ore extraction and processing operations.

The application area was 65.76 square kilometres, located between 22 and 36 kilometres (12 and 19 nautical miles) offshore in the South Taranaki Bight.

The DMC has issued a comprehensive decision setting out its reasons for refusing the consent.

The applicant and most submitters acknowledged that there was uncertainty and that in these circumstance the EEZ Act requires the EPA to favour caution and environmental protection (sections 61(2) of the EEZ Act).

With respect to uncertainty, the DMC considered whether the adaptive management approach proposed by the applicant would enable the application to be undertaken (sections 61(3) of the EEZ Act).

The DMC found that the conditions proposed by the applicant (including the adaptive management approach) were not sufficiently certain or robust for the application to be approved given the uncertainty and inadequacy of the information presented about the potential adverse effects.

The DMC also considered that there was also a lack of clarity about the extent of economic benefit to New Zealand outside of royalties and taxes and the economic value of the adverse effects.


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