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Logic Lacking In Wetlands Rules

Logic is lacking in the Government’s push to protect wetlands when it comes to coal, says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.

“Straterra welcomes the Government’s moves to fix some earlier issues in the regulations to protect wetlands, but we oppose the way coal is being singled out in the latest consultation,” Vidal says.

“We share the Government’s desire to protect New Zealand’s natural wetlands and support the intention to enable mining and other activities where appropriate, while still ensuring no further wetlands loss. But there must be logic and an evidence-base applied to regulations to do this.

“These regulations are not the appropriate place to push for a sunset date for thermal coal mining (2030), and to single out coal as somehow different when it comes to mining activities. There is no logic in this when the Government has said it is phasing out coal boilers by 2037 and it is widely acknowledged that New Zealand will be dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation for some time yet.

“These regulations are about addressing the effects of activities, which depend on the mining method, not the type of mineral being extracted.

“We contend that there should be no distinction made between different types of minerals in the wetland regulations.

“Meeting climate change imperatives is better left to the Emissions Trading Scheme and other provisions of the Climate Change Response Act.

“Coal remains essential to some food production and heating hospitals in New Zealand, as well as ongoing electricity supply, and if we don’t source it from our own backyard, we will be importing it.

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“This only pushes our climate change obligations offshore, potentially to countries that don’t share our highly regulated employment, health and safety, and environmental standards. We don’t believe ‘out of sight, out of mind’ fits with New Zealand’s climate change narrative on the global stage.

“While the proposed changes on the table have gone a long way to fixing some earlier issues and we are encouraged by the Government’s desire to provide a consent pathway for mining in wetlands, we need to see the next iteration to ensure the regulations would be workable.

“Across all our engagement on the environmental moves by Government, Straterra supports development being considered on its merits, on a case-by-case basis. Those merits should span social, economic, environmental, and cultural considerations,” Vidal says.

Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand minerals and mining sector. You can read our submission here.

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