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Greenpeace Appalled at Giant Coal Mine Approval

Greenpeace Appalled at Giant Coal Mine Approval

Greenpeace says the thumbs up given by the Waikato Regional Council for a giant new coal mine near Huntly, Awaroa 4, is appalling and that the RMA process which lead to its approval, was abused.

"The consenting of the Awaroa 4 coal mine at Huntly has been a debacle: from the panic-decisions and rubberstamping at the highest levels of Government earlier this year, to the subsequent perversion of new RMA 'limited notification' rules, used to restricting public input, and now the approval for the coal mine by Environment Waikato," said climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.

Environment groups sent a letter in March warning Ms Hobbs that her new 'limited notification' RMA rules would be abused.

"The new rules were supposed to be for proposals with a 'minor' environmental effect, like an extension to a building. Instead, Environment Waikato has interpreted the following to have a 'minor' impact: a 225ha open cast coal mine, in which 113 million tonnes of earth must be moved, vegetation cleared, and a stream re-diverted to get to the 11 million tonnes of coal, the taking and discharge of water, air emissions, earthworks and all the other environmental effects. The opencast mine will further contaminate Lake Waahi from polluted water pumped out of the enormous crater, which would then run into the Waikato River."

"The legacy of this decision and the terrible precedent it sets, sits firmly at the feet of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs. This is a clear abuse of the new RMA rules and Marian Hobbs has allowed it to go through unchallenged."

The 11 million tonnes of coal dug out of the Awaroa 4 mine will be crushed to dust and burnt at the Huntly power station, creating 26.4 million tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide.

"The mine has been pushed through by industry lobbying and the Government panicking during this year's energy crisis - the same Government wants to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions through the Kyoto Protocol."

"Greenpeace considers this a gross abuse of the Resource Management Act and is looking at legal options. It is ridiculous to be considering digging up coal when New Zealand has abundant wind, solar and other clean renewable energy sources," concluded Ms Atkinson.

For more information contact: Climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson 021 565 165 Communications Officer Dean Baigent-Mercer 021 790 817

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