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West Coast needs sustainable development, not boom and bust

14 August 2013

West Coast needs sustainable development, not boom and bust

The West Coast needs sustainable economic development, not the coal industry’s short-term boom and bust cycles, says Forest & Bird.

A small group of protestors from Go West Coast (formerly Environment West Coast) held a brief picket outside Forest & Bird’s national office in Wellington today.

The protestors were demanding that Forest & Bird give up on trying to protect the unique, publically-owned Denniston Plateau, and let an Australian coal company dig a large open-cast mine there.

“We support sustainable economic development on the Coast, and we are advocating for the preservation of a unique site, which already attracts 20,000 visitors a year, many from overseas,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“Back in the 1980s, logging companies wanted to cut down the forests around the nearby Paparoa Range. Environmentalists stopped that from happening, and today the Paparoa National Park attracts tourists from around New Zealand and around the world.

“That’s just one example of how looking after the Coast’s unique environment benefits the region,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Bathurst has applied to mine at Denniston for five years.

“We’re happy to talk to Go West Coast about their concerns. Indeed, we invited their chairman Brent Oldman in for a coffee this morning,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“The protestors outside today were exercising their democratic rights, just as we have been exercising ours in protecting the outstanding values of the Denniston Plateau.

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“Bathurst Resources agreed in the Environment Court that the landscape and biodiversity values of the Denniston Plateau are very high,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The Denniston Plateau was set aside as conservation land by the government in the late 1980s, in a deal which allowed the Stockton Plateau to be mined. Ninety three per cent of the Denniston Plateau is in an untouched state. The remaining seven per cent, which was mined until the 1960s, was never open-cast mined.

The Department of Conservation recently ranked the Denniston Plateau as one of New Zealand’s top 50 most precious mainland sites, and has described the Denniston Plateau as being at an ecological tipping point.

Forest & Bird is New Zealand's largest independent conservation organisation, with 50 branches nationwide. It protects our native plants, animals and wild places, on land and in our oceans.

ENDS

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