KASM challenges seabed mining secrecy in Environment Court
7 November 2016
KASM challenges seabed mining secrecy in Environment Court today
Today, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), with the support of Ngāti Ruanui and Talleys Fisheries Group, will be asking the Environment Court to rule that seabed mining company Trans Tasman Resources (TTR), make public all of the information in its application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to mine the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight.
The hundreds of pages of redactions include the details of the content of the seabed sediment in the Bight, and the modeling - and detail - of the sediment plume that would be spread across the Bight from seabed mining, as well as economic data.
TTR applied to the EPA for these documents to be redacted, and only able to be viewed if a party signs a confidentiality agreement that severely restricts distribution and discussion of the content and puts signatories at risk of civil and criminal penalties if they breach the agreement.
“We were forced to take our case to the Environment Court because the redacted documents provide crucial information about the potential environmental impact of digging up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year for 35 years,” said Phil McCabe, KASM chairperson.
“We believe the public has a right to see this information, and indeed we as KASM have relied on a variety of scientific expertise to help us understand the details. We believe that asking everybody to sign an extremely restrictive confidentiality agreement in a public process is wrong,” he said.
“None of this information was redacted in the last two unsuccessful applications to mine the seabed, and we see no reason for this to change here,” he said.
Taranaki Iwi Ngati Ruanui and Talley’s Fisheries have both made submissions supporting KASM’s case in the Environment Court.
The case is expected to be heard over the course of two days.
Submissions on the application close next Monday, but KASM has also asked the Environment Court, if the judgment is in favour of making the documents public, to extend that submission period.
“We believe that it’s only fair that people get a chance to read through this information, which may inform how they view the application,” said McCabe.