A little over a year ago the biggest single protest march in this country since 1938 put the final nail in the coffin of Gerry Brownlee and the Nats’ amateur hour plans to mine our most precious conservation land.
Or so we thought. But like a bad horror movie, the villain always comes back for one more round before the credits roll. So here we go again:
Mining sector ‘planning conservation land access’
Less than a year after being defeated by strong public opposition, the mining industry is planning another bid to gain access to minerals lying beneath the conservation estate, leading industry figures have indicated.
Labour MP David Parker yesterday said “senior” mining industry sources had told him they planned to seek an increase in the size of pockets of Schedule Four land, which may be used for mining related activities. … Mr Parker understood the industry’s objective was “to prove whether there’s a valuable resource there, and then you would cause a large amount of pressure to remove an area from Schedule Four protection”.
Currently the Nats are making all the right noises:
Last year, we consulted with New Zealanders on mining and Schedule Four and the answer was resoundingly clear – New Zealanders do not want mining on Schedule Four lands and the outcomes of that review will be incorporated into the Crown Minerals regime.
But we need to watch this space very carefully. Will they bow down to industry requests to facilitate access for prospecting? If they do we’ll know that their apparent obedience to the public will is a sham. Because there’s no point in prospecting if you aren’t going to dig up what you find.
As No Right Turn points out, the Nats are playing nice on this issue in election year. But if (heaven forbid) they are in a second term, they will be under increasing pressure to actually deliver something on the economy except dodgy numbers and excuses. In the absence of any actual ideas, and if prospecting has indicated the presence of mineral resources, the Nats won’t pass up the opportunity for some (self-defeating) short term gain. The only way to keep our conservation land safe is to elect a Labour / Green government.