Special status of mining on conservation land queried
Thursday 19 June 2014
Environment Commissioner queries the special status of mining on conservation land
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright says the Government has responded positively to some recommendations from her 2010 report on mining the conservation estate – but not the most important ones.
In September 2010 Dr Wright released a report titled Making difficult decisions: Mining the conservation estate. Mining cannot take place in national parks, but can on other areas of conservation land. The Commissioner has now released an update assessing the response to her recommendations.
The 2010 report described how permission for mining on conservation land can be more easily gained than permission for other commercial activities like tourism. Last year the Government made the difference greater by changing the law so that permission is now given by the Minister of Energy & Resources along with the Minister of Conservation.
“This joint decision-making undermines the role of the Minister of Conservation as guardian of the conservation estate,” said Dr Wright.
The Commissioner said that she is not against all mining on conservation land, provided conservation takes precedence.
“The greatest threat to our conservation estate is not mining, but introduced pests. There is potential for a win-win, if mining companies pay for substantial pest control.”
“It is important that the law and policy be improved to ensure a net conservation benefit when mining does take place on conservation land.”