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New RMA Rules Abused for Giant New Coal Mine

New RMA Rules Abused for Giant New Coal Mine

Today Greenpeace slammed the first big failure of Marian Hobbs' new Resource Management Act amendments. In the first publicly known example of the RMA's new "limited notification" rules, a giant new Waikato coal mine, Awaroa 4, is being ferreted though the system with severely restricted public scrutiny. This follows an $800 million panicked coal deal in April between SOEs Solid Energy and Genesis Power also with virtually no scrutiny.

"The public are being shut out of key decisions," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson. "This massive mine proposal threatens to pollute steams, a lake and the Waikato River with significant flow-on effects that will fuel global warming by releasing over 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This deserves public scrutiny and should have been fully publicly notified."

"It sustains a deal that will embed burning more dirty fossil fuels to generate electricity when we actually need a massive increase in renewable developments such as windfarms and solar power," said Ms Atkinson.

The Awaroa 4 mine proposal has been quickly navigated through the bureaucracy. This is how it has happened:

Coal deal is pushed though and signed:

* In April, at the height of the energy crisis, an $800 million coal deal was signed between Solid Energy and Genesis Power for 11 million tonnes of coal to be delivered over 8 years.

* The $800 million coal deal escaped the usual scrutiny required by SOEs with government officials stating they 'didn't have enough time'.

* Despite the deal having the largest global warming impacts of any electricity generating proposal in this country's history, no alternatives were considered.

* Three government ministers applied pressure for the massive coal deal to be signed as quickly as possible.

Pushing the coal mine consents through:

* Under new "limited notification" RMA rules, Environment Waikato notified only those people and groups that they decided might be concerned to have input into the mining proposal.

* The consent hearing is this Thursday in Huntly.

"Prior to passing the new 'limited notification' clauses NGO's wrote to Helen Clark and warned that limited notification would be abused by shutting out community groups and the public. Now these predictions are coming true", concluded Ms Atkinson.

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