Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Minister’s OK to mine Denniston Plateau disaster for nature

Minister’s OK to mine Denniston Plateau disaster for nature

Forest & Bird is devastated that Conservation Minister Nick Smith has today opened the door for an Australian company to mine ecologically significant conservation land on Denniston Plateau.

Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin is stunned by the decision because Denniston Plateau is on conservation land, which means it can only be used for conservation.

“What makes the Minister’s decision all the more baffling is the conservation values of the plateau and where the mine would go are absolutely extraordinary.

“The plateau is home to an array of specialised wildlife, including critically endangered plants, rare lizard species and the great spotted kiwi. And this mine tears right at the heart of the most important area of the plateau.” Debs Martin says.

Dr Smith has granted the mining company access arrangements, which gives permission for the open-cast coal mine to go ahead. However, the mining company still needs resource consent, which due to a Forest & Bird appeal is currently before the Environment Court.

Forest & Bird believes the decision is about politics, not conservation. The law prevents the Conservation Minister from taking economic considerations into account when considering access arrangements. “Everyone – the Environment Court, DOC, external ecologists – agrees that whole ecosystems will be lost if the mine goes ahead. The Minister of Conservation is effectively signing the death warrants of native animals,” Debs Martin says.

“The Environment Court stressed that the case for the mine was ‘finely balanced’ under the RMA. If you take the economic benefits out of the equation, then the logical conclusion is that the Minister can only say no when he has to make an access decision under the Conservation Act.”

The company’s offer to inject $22 million into the Heaphy area in return for destroying the plateau is poor compensation. “DOC has undertaken predator control in the Heaphy area for the last 19 years, and had signalled its intent for further predator control, with or without funding from the mining company. And the Heaphy isn’t even in the same area. Predator control there will do nothing to preserve the internationally unique biodiversity that will be destroyed on the plateau.”

Forest & Bird also questions the timing of the announcement. The Environment Court is yet to give a final ruling on the mine and two further cases are before the courts that could affect its final decision. “The Minister is getting ahead of himself. There may not be a need for a decision as the Environment Court may still stop the mine from going ahead,” Debs Martin says.

“But by making a decision before law changes come into effect tomorrow, he’s avoiding having to open the issue to public consultation, something the government promised at the end of the Schedule 4 mining debate in 2010.

“It’s exactly why Forest & Bird is concerned about the cuts to DOC and its new reliance on corporate funding. Predator control in exchange for mining is the type of deal we will see in the future where money thrown in one direction will allow companies to bulldoze another, and communities are completely shut out of discussions,” Debs Martin says.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Members' Bills: Seymour Lodges Assisted Dying Bill

“The End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives,” said Mr Seymour. More>>


Activism: SHAN Protest Against State Housing Sales

The State Housing Action Network (SHAN) led a protest in Wellington against the sale of state housing by the Government. At midday thirty to forty protestors marched from Civic Square to Parliament accompanied by the sounds of the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band. More>>

1080 Threat: Police Arrest 60 Year Old Auckland Man

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year. More>>


Canterbury Transition Bill First Reading: Government Hiding From ECan Submissions

The Government has radically reduced the amount of time for public submissions on their controversial ECan bill, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods... “Their shortened timeline could mean that instead of the usual six weeks, Cantabrians get just one week to submit their views on the bill." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Our Apparent Inability To Stand Up To Australia

Alas, and only days before the first meeting between our Prime Minister John Key and the new Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull, this country is showing no sign of standing up for itself. Quite the reverse. We seem to be rolling over, and making gestures of appeasement. More>>


Health Not-So-Many Benefits: Auditor-General On Scrapped Cost-Saving Plan

The Auditor-General decided to look into the costs and benefits of HBL’s work in the health sector and, where possible, identify lessons... We found that several factors contributed to the difficulties that befell HBL and, in particular, the Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain (FPSC) programme. More>>


Wikileaks: TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter Released

“If TPP is ratified, people in the Pacific-Rim countries would have to live by the rules in this leaked text,” said Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program Director. “The new monopoly rights for big pharmaceutical firms would compromise access to medicines in TPP countries. The TPP would cost lives.” More>>


Redundancies: 120 Laws To Be Repealed

The Statutes Repeal Bill will remove 120 pieces of superfluous legislation, and parts of eight other acts. It is being consulted on before it is introduced to Parliament. “The proposed Bill would reduce the total number of public Acts in force by more than 10%,” Mr Joyce says. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news