Green & Labour ministers decline mining application

Green Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has released some good news this weekend, but it hasn’t shut down criticism of an earl;ier decision on water bottling.

along with Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods, announced on Saturday that an application to mine coal on conservation land on the West Coast has been declined – Government declines application to mine conservation land at Te Kuha

An application to mine coal on public conservation land near Te Kuha in the Buller District has been declined, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Energy Resources Megan Woods announced today.

Rangitira Developments Ltd had applied for an access arrangement under the Crown Minerals Act to mine 12 hectares of public conservation land in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area, near Te Kuha, as part of a large opencast coal mine.

The Ministers declined the application to mine 12 hectares of conservation land because it was not considered that the mine’s potential economic benefits were large enough to outweigh the irreparable damage to an area with very high, unique and nationally significant conservation values.

“Under the Conservation Act, this land is held to preserve and protect its natural and historic resources.  This application is inconsistent with that purpose,” said Eugenie Sage.

Minister Woods said the proposal had been closely scrutinised against the relevant criteria in the Crown Minerals Act.

Recently Sage came under strong fire from Green supporters – see Greens bottling it as water fallout continues. so may win back some credit for this move.

It’s interesting that this news was released from the Beehive yesterday, the only one on Saturday.

Most ‘latest from the Beehive’ media releases are during the week. There were nine on Friday, two on Thursday, twelve on Wednesday, five on Tuesday and three on Monday. There were none last Saturday (one on Sunday).

It looks like Sage could have pushed out a good for Greens decision to try to dampen criticism.

Unlike Consent granted for overseas purchase of Whakatane water bottling plant Sage didn’t try to explain this decision on the Green blog (which isn’t a forum because comments aren’t enabled). However it was promoted on Facebook:

However comments there suggest that Sage is far from forgiven for her water bottling decision.

Mustn’t have been applied for by the chinese

Protected my a…. Eugenie Sage is earning $249,839 as a Minister and selling our souls to the highest bidder rather than stand up for our environment. What is worse is that the Green MPs are trying to say her hands are tied.

Why can’t you stop the water bottling plant for China?? Didn’t you promise pre election??

Ok on the path to redemption, but a long way to make up for aiding and abetting the theft of our water…SORT IT…

Nice for the West Coast but we in the Bay of Plenty will never forget the disregard shown to us (and Green Party policy) when our precious groundwater was given to a Chinese corporation and they were able to buy sensitive land.

What about protecting our water? The Green Party recently allowed a Chinese water bottling plant to expand its business in Whakatane? Is this article’s purpose to deter the public’s attention away from that

It wasn’t until the seventh comment that there was praise.

Thank you @Eugenie Sage, credit where credit is due. It’s certainly been a week of highs and lows! Keep the kaupapa Greens…and take care of yourselves, I don’t envy you your jobs

It looks like ten steps backward and one forward this week for the Greens – and that’s just within the party.

There has been some applause for declining the mining application, like from Forest & Bird (now led by ex-Green MP Kevin Hague) – Stuff: Government declines controversial application for coal mine at Te Kuha

The decision was welcomed by Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague as “a hugely significant, forward-thinking decision that future generations of New Zealanders will be thankful for”.

Obviously the company applying to mine was disappointed.

Stevenson Mining chief operating officer Anne Brewster said the decision was short sighted. Stevenson Mining is owned by Rangitira Developments. “We are very disappointed,” she said.

“The Government has made this decision and it is very short sighted … These decisions are made by people who have vested interests in the community.”

And Buller District Mayor Garry Howard said…

…he wasn’t surprised by the decision but still couldn’t understand the logic behind it as the proposed site was only 12 hectares.

“The Department of Conservation has 1,596,000 hectares on the West Coast and this was just 12. It would be a commercial  venture that is only going to be operating on 144 hectares and an open pit of 10 hectares. “Modern day mining is totally different to what historic mining has been. The restoration work is outstanding.”

But there is a good case for protecting wilderness areas.

Because of extensive mining elsewhere, the Te Kuha area was one of the last two intact, elevated Brunner coal measure ecosystems, and home to threatened plant and animal species, including the great spotted kiwi, South Island fernbird, West Coast green gecko, and the largest known population of the rare forest ringlet butterfly.

“It is an undisturbed area which is precious and unique,” Sage said.

“The economic benefits assessment for the mine showed it was at a poor risk with a perfect storm if operating costs were higher than anticipated, if there wasn’t as much coal as anticipated, and if coal prices continued to be at low levels.

“The economic benefits of the mine didn’t outweigh the permanent loss and destruction of conservation values.”

While it doesn’t help business and jobs on the West Coast this looks like a decision Sage made within the parameters allowed – as was the one she made on the water bottling plant.