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Carter Must Approve Pike River Access Now

Carter Must Approve Pike River Access Now

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley today called on Conservation Minister Chris Carter to overturn his department's advice and approve the access allowing the Pike River coal project to proceed.

"The Pike River coalfield, on the West Coast, is an exciting state-of-the-art project with an estimated annual yield of high quality coal worth $US100 per tonne. It is estimated that a million tonnes will be mined per annum, giving an annual value of $US100 million - or over $US1 billion for the project's estimated 10-year," Mr Shirley said.

"The Pike River coal project has had years of protracted delays but, last year, finally received its resource consents from the Environment Court.

"It now requires access through less than three hectares of DOC land, and the company has shown its preparedness to invest in conservation measures - including the purchase of alternative land giving a net conservation benefit.

"The Environment Court has considered all of the environment impacts, yet Forest and Bird mischievously re-litigates those matters. The company has spent over $100,000 in reports, which show that the acid leakage claims are not valid. It is well known that the Paparoas contain substantial limestone beds, which neutralise any acid leeching.

"The Conservation Minister has procrastinated for too long on this issue. It is time for him to approve the access that will permit this exciting project to proceed.

"To put the Pike River project in perspective, the annual earnings that could be derived from this scheme equate to approximately half of the $300 million appropriation for Conservation for the 2003/2004 financial year.

"The Environment Court has said there will not be an adverse impact on the three hectares of conservation land involved, and yet the Department - in its narrow-minded bigotry - would deny the people of New Zealand this wealth," Mr Shirley said.

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