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15, Dec, 2011

Environmental groups press government to keep promise on mining


Category: News


A group of environmental organisations that last year successfully defended national parks from mining is asking the government to keep its promise to give New Zealanders a say about a new plan to mine conservation land on the Denniston Plateau.

The 2precious2mine coalition wants Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson to allow public submissions for a 160-hectare open-cast coal mine on the wild, unique Denniston Plateau on the West Coast.

"Last year 50,000 people marched up Queen Street to stop mining on conservation land,” Greenpeace spokesperson Steve Abel said. “We feel just as strongly now, and we’d like a say about the plan to mine Denniston. The government is taking the public for fools by reneging on its mining promises."

When the government last year reversed its decision to open national parks to mining, it promised that the public would get the right to comment on access agreements for all future significant mine proposals on public land, including conservation land. The proposed mine at Denniston would be the largest open-cast coal mine on public conservation land, and eventually would lead to a 50 per cent increase in New Zealand’s coal production.

On the first working day after the election, Ms Wilkinson told conservation organisation Forest & Bird that the government will break its promise and will not give New Zealanders a say about the Denniston coal mine.

“Forest & Bird has been protecting our native plants and animals since 1923, and we believe Denniston’s special plants and animals within the area are too important to be wiped out by an open-cast coal mine,” Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin said. “Will New Zealanders need to march again to protect them?”

Coromandel Watchdog members are concerned that the government is signalling a bigger push for mining. “New Zealanders have shown great support for our public conservation land all around the country. We won’t allow politicians to forget this,” Coromandel Watchdog Secretary Clive Monds said. "The government in 2010 stopped mining on high-value conservation land but now seems to be telling the mining industry to proceed anyway."

Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) co-chair Cath Wallace cannot believe that the Denniston mine could be regarded as not significant. “Refusal to publicly notify the application is a gross breach of the government’s commitment. We urge public notification and hearings.”

2precious2mine members:

Forest & Bird
Greenpeace
Coromandel Watchdog
Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO)
Federated Mountain Clubs
Coal Action Network Aotearoa
Auckland Coal Action
Climate Justice Taranaki