Court hears case against mine
Mon, 29 Oct 2012 6:30p.m.
By Annabelle Tukia
A long-running bid by conservation groups to stop coal mining on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau went before the Environment Court today.
An Australian company was granted permission for a 150-hectare open-cast mine on a mountain in the conservation estate near Westport last year.
Just six protestors gathered outside the Environment Court to mark the first day of the hearing, which should decide the fate of the Denniston Plateau. Inside, lawyers for Australian mining company Bathurst Resources began by outlining the mining jobs that are at stake.
“The Escarpment mine will generate a significant positive economic impact for Buller District and the West Coast region,” says Buller Coal Limited lawyer Jo Appleyard. “The mine will generate a total number of 251 direct jobs.”
Forest and Bird, along with the West Coast Environment Network, appealed to the Environment Court after Buller Coal Limited, the New Zealand arm of Bathurst Resources, got the go-ahead for the mine last year.
The environmentalists say the financial gains pale in comparison to the impact the open-cast mine would have on Denniston's unique landscape.
“It’s a very rare site and because of that it gives rise to important endemic species – native birds and animals and insects and particularly the small life, the invertebrates,” says Debs Martin of Forest and Bird.
Ms Martin says if mining goes ahead, many of those animals and plant life could be lost altogether. But the miner's lawyer told the hearing the environmental impact will be minimised.
“Buller Coal's primary mitigation is to rehabilitate the Escarpment mine through an extensive rehabilitation programme,” says Ms Appleyard. “The goal of that programme is to create an environmental condition that is compatible with the natural landscape.”
More than 40 witnesses will be called during the month-long hearing.
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30/10/2012 6:43:07 p.m.
Its going ahead - this is just wasting time. Denniston is currently being mined, always has been mined, this is just another area to open up. Until you can get a replacement for steel, or another way to make it without this high coking coal what are the alternative????? Not going to have much in the way of tourism with no planes.
30/10/2012 11:08:02 a.m.
this national goverment is putting the miners and there familys against the green/protesters which is a dirty move!
by closing spring creek and wanting to open this new one..the sooner this dodgy goverment goes the better, they are just filling there fat cat mates with money at the expence of us normal kiwi's
30/10/2012 2:01:14 a.m.
Jacqueline Gibson wrote:
Many more of us were there in spirit with the six outside the court. Common Sense's comments are ridiculous, not only trying to deny the democratic right to protest the destruction of what is largely designated conservation land but also exposing shocking double standards by admitting it is bad for the planet but seemingly OK for Bathurst. How can you live with yourself?
30/10/2012 12:30:23 a.m.
Ban coal good idea. Now what will we use? I know lets buy some arab oil that will do until we come up with something else. Or we could use chinese coal they wont mind selling us some with the economic slow down.
29/10/2012 11:13:31 p.m.
Good on Forest & Bird and the West Coast Environment Network for fighting the good fight! Sure, the West Coast needs jobs, like anywhere else, but at what cost? The economic benefits would be short term, and most of the profit would go back to Australia.
Also, the argument that "if we don't do it, someone else will" is quite thin. A decision should be judged on its own merits, not the assumed actions of others. We're not responsible for what happens elsewhere, but we (through the court) have an opportunity to prevent a mine that contributes to a climate catastrophe and irreversible loss of biodiversity.
29/10/2012 10:30:54 p.m.
The line has to be drawn somewhere. We can't control the "somewhere else". Climate-change has to stop at home.
29/10/2012 10:17:21 p.m.
Verena Maeder wrote:
I was one of the five people "protesting" today. I was there because I am appalled that Climate Change can't be taken into consideration when new coal mines apply for a consent! I don't agree we should hide behind the argument "if we don't do it here, someone else, somewhere else" will do it... we should be responsible for our choices. In my opinion, the best choice for a sustainable future would be to move away from fossil fuels, create jobs and wealth in the renewable energy sector and in clean technologies, become market leaders and a model low carbon nation. We should not carve up our amazing country for a quick buck, and leave future generations with the bill. Coal mining should be a thing of the past. It is backward to buy into this dirty industry, believe their lies, and subject west coast communities to further boom and bust cycles. I really hope the Judge sees some sense and will make a precedent setting ruling, not for the "environmentalists", but for a "clean energy future" and future generations on New Zealanders.
29/10/2012 8:00:11 p.m.
common sense wrote:
Bathhurst resources has won every court battle. it has been litgated and forrest and bird et al have lost. If the protestors loose they should be fully liable for all of Bathursts costs including opportunity cost. If they than seek bankruptcy protection it should be on the basis that they can never launch court action again.
As for the argument that coal causes green house gases -- too true -- but if they don't get it here they will get it somewhere else probably using much worse extraction techniques - which is worse for the planet.
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