Trans-Tasman Resources says majority of appeal 'not questions of law'
By Rebecca Howard
April 18 (BusinessDesk) - Trans-Tasman Resources is defending the Environmental Protection Authority-appointed committee’s decision to grant a marine consent for its offshore iron mining project in a hearing underway in Wellington this week.
The company sought permission to extract 50 million tonnes of seabed material a year to export up to 5 million tonnes of iron sand per year from the ocean floor in the South Taranaki Bight, generating an annual $400 million in export revenue. Consent was granted last August, under a series of conditions. However, iwi, conservation and fishing interests have argued the consent should never have been granted at the four-day hearing this week.
In its submission Wednesday, TTR said appellants have raised more than 80 alleged errors of law, with some overlap between them, and “the majority of these ‘errors’ are questions of fact, or involve applying settled law to the facts, which are not questions of law.”
While the appellants allege the impacts of sand mining are "largely unknown” and “potentially devastating,” that claim “ignores the extensive evidence that the Decision Making Committee had in relation to effects,” TTR said.
Regarding the appellants’ emphasis on the precautionary principle, the information gathering powers, natural justice and adaptive management arguments, the submission said “none of these arguments bear scrutiny.”
TTR argues the committee made full use of its information gathering powers, all natural justice principles were followed, with all parties given the opportunity to comment on new information, evidence extensions were granted on request and hearing procedures were made available to all parties.
The company also submits that none of the conditions imposed amounted or contributed to an adaptive management approach and in relation to all the other grounds the “EPA interpreted and applied the law correctly.”
The submission said whether the court might prefer or even reach a different factual founding is not a question of law.
“The appeals should be dismissed.”
Kiwis Against Seabed Mining – one of the appellants – said the case will set a precedent and it's ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.