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Coromandel community let down by court and council

6 August 2004

Coromandel community let down by court and council

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says yesterday's Environment Court ruling to lift the ban on gold mining in the Coromandel means local people face years of uncertainty and hard work to protect their unique environment and tourist and fishing industries.

"It will still be hard for the miners to get permission to start digging, but this decision means the community will have to fight for years on a case-by-case basis at its own expense and time to bring the necessary evidence to court to ward off such proposals," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Conservation Spokesperson who lives near Thames.

"Many people on the Peninsula are hugely disappointed that the Thames-Coromandel District Council decided at the last minute, without consulting its ratepayers, to concede to the objections of the Minerals Industry Association and not back its own proposed district plan at the court hearing. This left only the Coromandel Watchdog group of concerned citizens to defend a plan that was put together carefully six years ago after full public consultation. The community is feeling betrayed.

"I am particularly disturbed that a central government entity, the Ministry of Economic Development, has taken part in forcing a change against the wishes of a local community. This does not bode well for similar battles over the environment around the country.

"The area at greatest risk are the coastal marine areas, which were protected by the proposed plan until this decision. Sediments in the Firth of Thames contain gold that has washed down the rivers for more than a century from old mines. Dredging these sediments will destroy a major attraction of the Coromandel, as well as seriously degrading water quality and threatening fishing and aquaculture," said Ms Fitzsimons.

ENDS

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