Peak green body to oppose ironsands mining appeal
By Pattrick Smellie
July 2 (BusinessDesk) - The Environmental Defence Society says it will join the High Court appeal being pursued by would-be ocean floor ironsands miner TransTasman Resources, which will challenge the rejection of its plans by a decision-making committee of the Environmental Protection Authority.
EDS, a peak environmental lobby group, expressed surprise at the appeal, warning TTR could be "throwing good money after bad" if it believed it could appeal on points of law the factual findings of the committee, which found the company's case for dredging ironsands in the Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast of Patea lacked sufficient certainty about its environmental impacts and had not sufficiently consulted all affected stakeholders.
“The EPA’s Decision-Making Committee (DMC) agreed with EDS (and other submitters) that TTR’s case was underdone and uncertainties of the effects on the environment and existing interests meant it was required to favour caution and environmental protection," said EDS executive director Gary Taylor said in a statement. "It also decided that the proposed adaptive management approach was not sufficiently certain or robust to give ‘the degree of confidence’ needed to be able to grant consent."
"The DMC made clear findings of fact regarding the uncertainties and inadequacies of the information available. Those findings are not capable of challenge on appeal. The EEZ Act is clear in its requirement for caution and environmental protection to be favoured in the face of uncertain or inadequate information."
The company would "be better off doing the additional work needed to bring the project up to standard," he said. “Nevertheless, this will be an important test case as it will set binding High Court law on how the EEZ Act is to be applied."
TTR chief executive Tim Crossley told BusinessDesk yesterday the company was in the throes of reorganising itself for an uncertain process that could lead to a full or partial rehearing, if the appeal succeeded, or to a decision on whether to mount a completely new marine consent application under the new regime governing EEZ economic activity.
TTR is the first company to have tested the new regulatory framework. Crossley said the company had expected the hearing process to allow room for a negotiated approach to "adaptive management", and had been surprised by a "binary" approach in which only an approval or rejection of the whole project was possible.