Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Huntly farce proves law not working

9 October, 2003

Huntly farce proves law not working

In the wake of the Huntly coal mine debacle, the Green party is urging the Minister for the Environment to amend the Resource Management Act (RMA) to allow a review of council notification decisions by the Environment Court.

That provision was introduced by Simon Upton in the 1999 Amendment Bill and Labour and the Greens agreed to support it. It was removed from the Bill by the Labour Government a few months ago with the assistance of the anti-environment United Future party.

At the same time "limited notification" was introduced, further shutting out public participation. Now these provisions have enabled Solid Energy and Environment Waikato to deny public input on a huge new open-cast coal mine.

"By ruling that the environmental effects of the new mining operation were 'minor', Environment Waikato allowed Solid Energy to get away with only notifying immediate neighbours and 'local' groups," Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"Environment Minister Marion Hobbs told Parliament yesterday that if Forest and Bird had had a 'local' group, then she would have expected it to be notified. The news for Marion is: they have three local groups - Waikato, Franklin and Thames-Coromandel - and they weren't notified.

"The Greens warned that the combined effect Labour-United's changes would be the exclusion of the public, more wealth for a few business people, and a poorer environment.

"It is appalling that watchdog environment groups can be excluded from giving input into crucial decisions that have major effects on New Zealand. Contrary to Environment Waikato's ruling, there is nothing 'minor' about the latest Huntly hole.

"They want to excavate a hole almost as big as Wellington's Mt Victoria. Would Marion Hobbs consider the removal of Mt Victoria a 'minor' project? How many people in her Wellington Central electorate would she want notified? Would they agree with her statement in the House today that 'size doesn't matter?'

"The High Court has ruled a number of times that councils are judging environmental effects to be 'minor' when they are not," said MS Fitzsimons. "But even if a group wins such a case at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, the High Court cannot reverse the original decision or provide any redress. And by then the hole will be dug.

"The Minister must allow these decisions to be properly reviewed, and overturned if necessary, by the Environment Court."


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election