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KASM to fight seabed mining decision appeal

KASM to fight seabed mining decision appeal, questions economic claims

21 July 2014

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) today notified the High Court of its intention to join the EPA in opposing an appeal by Trans Tasman Resources against the EPA’s decision to refuse consent for the country’s first seabed mining proposal.

Trans Tasman Resources applied to mine up to 50 million tonnes of black sand off the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight for 20 years, but the EPA refused consent and the company is now appealing that decision.

“We are extremely disappointed the company has lodged this appeal,” said KASM Chairperson Phil McCabe, “and we are determined to fight this to the end.”

He noted that it still appeared to have backing from the Government, which has now issued permits to companies to mine black sand up and down the North Island’s west coast, with many of them in the heart of the critically endangered Maui’s Dolphin habitat.

“The Government has backed the wrong horse here. It has implemented new legislation to support activities like seabed mining, pledged an up to $25 million taxpayer subsidy to the foreign-owned company, yet now their own EPA has decided that there were too many uncertainties to grant consent."

“More than 99 percent of the 4800 submissions to the EPA opposed this project because of the environmental destruction, and the precedent it would create for seabed mining right up the west coast of the North Island - clearly something New Zealanders do not want to see happening.”

“We will fight this appeal on behalf of this more than 99 percent of overwhelming opposition.”

Economic claims refuted
KASM noted that the Government and media continued to quote the company’s claimed economic benefits, despite the EPA questioning them in its decision.

The company’s own press release claimed that “the project has significant economic benefits creating 250 direct jobs, 170 indirect and will grow the GDP in the Taranaki regional economy by 3% or $240 million year and will grow New Zealand GDP by $302 million per year.”

Yet the EPA noted that experts had agreed the economic benefits of the project were estimated at approximately $50 million, based on annual royalty and tax payments.

“The company failed to convince the EPA of economic benefits of any more than the $50 million tax and royalties, yet the Government and media continue to state the claimed benefits as fact,” said McCabe.

In its decision, the EPA concluded that:

“We have not made a finding on this [economic] aspect, but even if we had agreed with [Trans Tasman Resources] on all points, we still would not have granted consent because of the uncertainty of the environmental effects and those on existing interests.“

KASM will fight the appeal despite the fact that the Government had refused the organisation access to the Environmental Legal Assistance fund, a point also noted by the EPA in its decision.

The voluntary charity is fundraising to fight the appeal. www.givealittle.co.nz/org/KASM/donate


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