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Abandoned Mining Appeal May Mean Fast Track For Coal

A long-running court battle against a new opencast coal mine has been abandoned by the mining company today, but environmentalists are putting celebrations on hold.

“While this would normally be a chance to celebrate an important victory for the environment and climate, the government’s fast-track consenting proposals are flinging open a back door for mining companies to walk right through,” says Forest & Bird Group Manager Richard Capie.

Stevenson Mining has abandoned its appeal on its proposed Te Kuha coal mine on a pristine mountaintop site near Westport on the West Coast.

Forest & Bird is calling on the mining company to come clean on whether it expects, or even has information from the coalition government, that this matter might be fast tracked under planned new legislation.

“The fast track legislation is anti-nature, anti-environment and anti-democratic,” says Mr Capie. “It looks like it will be giving ministers sweeping powers to just about single handedly approve any development they want.”

Forest & Bird has previously spoken out strongly against the Government's plan to fast-track the consenting process for local, regional and national infrastructure and development projects that it deems significant.

Forest & Bird has already spent years opposing the proposed Te Kuha mine. The organisation won a case in the Supreme Court showing that councils must protect natural features under the Reserves Act.

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The proposed 150-hectare mine site contains incredibly rare and important ecosystems and is home to numerous plants and animals at risk or threatened with extinction, such as roroa great spotted kiwi, South Island fernbird, geckos, and 17 plant species including native eyebright.

Pictures and video of the site are available here.

Last April, supported by the Coal Action Network, Forest & Bird successfully won against Stevenson Mining Limited in the Environment Court. Since Stevenson Mining announced it would appeal, the Society has been preparing its arguments for the expected court date in April this year.

“Forest & Bird and community groups have already fought against this horrific open-cast mine proposal in the courts, and won. If the Te Kuha coal mine gets a green light from Ministers under fast-track it would be a slap in the face for the climate, environment and our democracy,” says Mr Capie.

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