Forest & Bird is appealing a High Court decision which recently found the Crown Minerals Act overrides the Reserves Act, which could allow a West Coast coal mine project to proceed.
The environmental group now has two, separate appeals underway over the proposed Te Kuha coal mine project south east of Westport; one headed for the Environment Court in July contesting granting of Te Kuha's consents, and the latest will go before the Court of Appeal.
Forest & Bird's West Coast Regional Manager Jen Miller said the decision; overriding the Reserves Act, set a “dangerous precedent.”
She claimed: “There are dozens of council reserves around the country, that the public rightly expects to be protected. But it turns out they are not protected from mining.”
Forest & Bird similarly fought coal mine developer Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX: BRL) over granting of its consents to mine the Escarpment block on the Denniston Plateau above Westport. While unsuccessful after almost two years' litigation, Bathurst had to mothball that project after global coal prices had plunged.
Stevenson Mining, which already has a permit under the Crown Minerals Act, proposes to mine coal at Te Kuha within a 150 hectares area.
In October last year new Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced a ban on all new mining on conservation land, but the Stevenson Mining application would be decided within the existing law. (Sage is a Green Party member of the Ardern Coalition Government and also a former Forest & Bird employee: Editor).
About 12ha of the proposed mine's 150 ha footprint was on conservation land and the remainder was on a Buller District Council water conservation reserve.
The latest court case followed Buller District Council's decision to allow Stevenson Mining access to the Westport Water Conservation Reserve.
*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.
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