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Minister Pikes Out On Mine

12 March 04

Minister pikes out on mine

The Green Party is disappointed the government has today, yet again, gone against its own sustainability policies.

Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said Conservation Minister Chris Carter's green light to the Pike River coal mine contradicts the government's own 'Sustainable Development Programme of Action' because it will allow an unsustainable activity that will compromise conservation land.

"Mining in areas of high conservation value always compromises those values. Conservation land was set aside for preservation. Industrial activities have no place there," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party Conservation Spokesperson.

"This decision is an example of 'economic growth at all costs', not sustainable development. There are many fine words in Labour's 'Sustainable Development Programme of Action', but whenever a hard choice has to be made, governments crumple to the pressure of business and allow unsustainable development. It seems, unfortunately, that this government is no different.

"Their Programme identifies four key issues; two social and two environmental. The environmental ones are energy and fresh water quality - this development runs directly counter to both.

"Coal is not a sustainable fuel - burning coal, whether here or overseas, will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate climate change. This coal mine will produce acid that will inevitably discharge into rivers and streams. We in the Coromandel are still suffering from acid-polluted streams caused by mines that closed many decades ago.

"The Minister's 'deal' with the mining company to implement the 'highest possible safeguards' is simply unenforceable. What happens if it is breached? The damage cannot be repaired even with the largest bond. Worse, the mine and its vicinity must be monitored for decades after closure to ensure there are no future collapses. Why should the future pay to manage the effects of our present-day consumption?"

Co-leader Rod Donald, who has been campaigning to stop school closures, rejects Grey district mayor Kevin Brown's suggestion that the Pike River mine is welcome because it may force Trevor Mallard to reverse the local school review.

"We don't buy the argument that the mine is needed to save the schools in the Grey Valley. Schools such as Ngahere and Kaiata deserve to stay open on their own merits," said Mr Donald.


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