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

 

OIAs reveal plans to circumvent rules for new coal mines

OIAs reveal Government plans to circumvent rules for new coal mines
11 July 2017

Documents released to Forest & Bird under the Official Information Act show the Government has been working to circumvent environmental protections and public involvement to enable new coal mining on conservation land.

In May, Forest & Bird revealed the Government was working on secret mining plans for the ecologically valuable Buller Plateau.

“The Government and mining companies are acutely aware that new mines are likely to be turned down under the normal consenting process, given the ecological significance of the area,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

Forest & Bird can reveal that for 18 months, the Government investigated creating ‘Special Economic Zones’ to push through contentious developments, including coal mining on the Buller Plateau.

Special economic zone legislation would give the Government powers to take conservation land and private land, provide tax breaks for favoured developers, and override overseas investment and immigration controls.

“We’re talking about zones where normal environmental, social and democratic safeguards don’t apply,” says Mr Hague.

The OIA documents show that officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment advised Ministers not to proceed with SEZs due to significant ‘social license’ issues and risk of litigation.

Despite these reservations, the documents make clear that Bill English (then Finance Minister), Steven Joyce and some regional and district councils favour special economic zones, and that Local Government New Zealand ‘remains strongly committed to the concept’.

“If this went ahead, anywhere the Government wanted to carry out development - they could. Roading through National Parks, irrigation dams, energy generation, aquaculture, controversial tourism developments - you name it,” says Mr Hague.

Special economic zones would provide the Government with further powers in addition to recent changes to the Resource Management Act that also include a reduction in opportunities for public participation and a new mechanism for fast tracking big projects.

“On the heels of their response to the Supreme Court’s Ruataniwha dam decision, this is yet another example of how far this Government is willing to go in overriding good process to push through their favourite development projects.”

“This Thursday, the government is launching its West Coast Economic Action Plan, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if it contains some sort of favourable treatment for coal mining,” says Mr Hague.

Another workstream discussed in the OIA documents is a ‘single window’ for all necessary approvals for mining developments on the West Coast.

“The Government is seeking to give themselves the powers to push through controversial and damaging projects that would otherwise fail because they breach environmental limits.”

Another region that has been considered for a special economic zone is Southland where the government has been working to force aquaculture development into the waters surrounding Fiordland and Rakiura (Stewart Island) National Parks. A key site being investigated is Port Pegasus in Stewart Island, a location that the briefing paper describes as containing ‘some of the largest areas of near pristine marine habitat in New Zealand, with significant natural heritage values.’

“The Government is ‘picking winners’ rather than letting development projects be assessed on their merits and risks. This is Muldoon’s interventionist ‘Think Big’ model all over again,” says Mr Hague.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Mishandling Of The Alleged Sexual Assault

The focus of Labour’s alleged sexual assault scandal has now shifted from the party organisation to the Beehive... This is now a crisis of Beehive management and response, not something occurring at a distance within the party organisation.

Presumably, the QC appointed to clarify what happened will eventually shed light on key issues. Such as: on what date prior to the publication of the original Spinoff article did the party hierarchy/PM’s office/PM’s press secretary realise they were dealing with a sexual assault allegation, and what did they do about it at that point? More>>

 

'History Rectified': Rua Kēnana To Be Pardoned

An official pardon for Tūhoe prophet and leader Rua Kēnana is one step closer after the Te Pire kia Unuhia te Hara kai Runga i a Rua Kēnana: Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill was read in Parliament for the first time today. More>>

ALSO:

Mental Health: Initial Mental Health And Wellbeing Commission Appointed

The Government has announced details of the initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission which will play a key role in driving better mental health in New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

people outside the meeting house at WaitangiEducation: NZ History To Be Taught In All Schools

“We have listened carefully to the growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about our own history and identity. With this in mind it makes sense for the National Curriculum to make clear the expectation that our history is part of the local curriculum and marau ā kura in every school and kura,” Jacinda Ardern said. More>>

ALSO:

Sexual Assault Claims Mishandled: Labour Party President Resigns

Jacinda Ardern: “This morning I was provided some of the correspondence from complainants written to the party several months ago. It confirms that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue…" More>>

ALSO:

Budget Process: Wellbeing To Be Enshrined In Law

Legislation has been introduced in Parliament to ensure every Government considers the wellbeing of New Zealanders when creating future budgets. More>>

National In China: Bridges Praises CCP, Meets Law Enforcement Head

A recent trip to China has raised questions over who the Opposition leader Simon Bridges met with and why... Anne-Marie Brady, a Canterbury University professor and expert on Chinese politics, has described Guo Shengkun as the leader of the Chinese secret police. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The SIS/GCSB’s Compliance With Torture

Torture is a crime under international law. New Zealand has signed (a) the UN convention against torture and (b) formal agreements about how armed conflict should be conducted. That’s the legal backdrop to the fascinating report released this week by the SIS Inspector-General.

ALSO:

New Strategy: Suicide Prevention Office To Drive Prevention Action

The Government has announced a Suicide Prevention Office will be established to coordinate action already underway to reduce New Zealand’s historically high rate of suicide. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels