Forest & Bird appeals primacy of Crown Minerals Act in Te Kuha coal mine application
By Paul McBeth
March 13 (BusinessDesk) - The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society is appealing a High Court ruling that the Crown Minerals Act has primacy over the Reserves Act in mining applications on reserve land.
Stevenson Group unit Rangitira Developments sought the ruling to determine what Buller District Council needed to consider when reviewing the miner's application to access land managed by the local authority as a 'water conservation reserve' under the Reserves Act. Rangitira wants to develop the Te Kuha open cast coal mine at the site which is south of the Denniston and Stockton Plateaus, southeast of Westport, and already holds a permit under the Crown Minerals Act.
The High Court ruled in favour of Rangitira, holding that the application for access fell under the Crown Minerals Act, but that council needed to have regard to the values the Reserves Act seeks to protect in making its decision.
Forest & Bird West Coast regional manager Jen Miller said that decisions set a "dangerous precedent" and the environmental lobby is appealing the ruling, which will be heard in the Court of Appeal.
"In Forest & Bird’s view, the Crown Minerals Act does not override the council’s obligations under the Reserves Act to protect the reserve's natural features," Miller said in a statement. "It’s important that this forest and the wildlife that lives there is protected. We don’t think there should an exemption for coal mining."
Separately, Forest & Bird is appealing the resource consents granted for the Te Kuha mine to the Environment Court, which will be heard in July.