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PCE report: easier to mine DOC land than use it for tourism

19 June 2014 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

PCE report: it’s easier to mine DOC land than use it for tourism

Forest & Bird says the government should immediately take its current block offers off the market, following a report from the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE).

The report makes it clear that it is easier to get permission to mine the conservation estate than it is to get access to run a simple tourism operation.

PCE Dr Jan Wright’s follow up to her 2010 report, ‘Making Difficult Decisions: Mining the Conservation Estate,’ was released today.

It rates the government a fail on its response to five of the seven recommendations made in the original report.

The PCE states that “relatively benign activities such as guided tours and adventure tourism face a tougher legal test for access to the conservation estate than mining operations”.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE has also criticised the government for continuing to allow the Minister of Energy and Resources to have joint decision-making powers - with the Minister of Conservation - on whether conservation land can be sacrificed to mining operations.

“Of all the people sitting around the cabinet table, the Conservation Minister is best placed to decide which pieces of conservation land should be protected – not Simon Bridges, who had never heard of Victoria Forest Park before he put the rights to frack it up for the sale,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“It’s the Minister of Energy and Resources’ job to maximise the amount of mining done in New Zealand. Putting him in charge of deciding which parts of the conservation estate can be mined is like letting the fox decide whether his family can live in the henhouse.

“The conservation estate was put aside long ago to protect this country’s unique plants and animals for the benefit of all New Zealanders, forever – not just those who have shares in mining companies,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The PCE also criticised the government for not moving all significant ecological areas into Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, which she also recommended in her first report.

Recent government block offers have put up for sale the rights to mine, drill and frack in millions of hectares of private and public land, including the North IsIand’s Pureora Forest – home to a third of the world’s remaining kōkako.

The PCE’s report can be found here.


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