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Supreme Court decision deals another blow to Te Kuha mine

The Supreme Court has sided with Forest & Bird and stopped an appeal for the development of an open cast coal mine at Te Kuha.

The Buller District Council had granted access to a reserve for a mining company wishing to develop a coal mine on the mountain top of Te Kuha, a beautiful and isolated mountain in the Buller region, on the West Coast of the South Island.

Following a challenge to the granting of access, the Council rescinded access and the mining company sought clarification of the law in the High Court.

Forest & Bird was unsuccessful in the High Court but the Court of Appeal upheld its view that the Crown Mineral Act takes precedence over the Reserves Act and protects the special features of Te Kuha from destruction.

The mining company had sought an appeal at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court initially granted leave but today revoked leave.

“Forest & Bird has been fighting the mine, that would allow 150ha of destruction to a very special area,” says Forest & Bird General Counsel Peter Anderson.

“The reserve is home to great spotted kiwi, and rare forest ringlet butterflies. We have to protect the areas where these amazing species live, and under the Reserves Act, we have resolutely argued the Council is required to maintain the reserves natural features.”

“The High Court and Court of Appeal decisions were based on the reserve having been classified as a local purpose reserve. The Supreme Court has decided the appeal can’t proceed because, the reserve in question appears to have never been classified,” says Mr Anderson.

The Court reserved leave for the mining company to appeal in the future, including if the land for the proposed mine is classified.

“We know the appeal could eventually proceed. But for now this a great win for the wildlife and plants of Te Kuha.” says Mr Anderson.


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