First the Southland District Council plants a block of pine trees many years ago. Then they decide to strip the trees and get to the coal underneath.
That’s New Brighton Collieries, owned by Bathurst from the ASX, working with SDC on both ends. The Australians get resource consent from Southland District Council as regulator to figure how to expedite extraction from Southland District Council as forestry block owner.
Forest and Bird Society, the most successful legal protector of New Zealand nature, appeals with a judicial review in August. The claim is that SDC didn’t take climate change into account.
Southland Mayor Gary Tong responded that: “It’s a transition to better ways of doing this cleaner and greener, that is the focus, the only means of creating energy in some parts of New Zealand. We all want to make a cleaner, greener planet, but we can’t do it in five minutes.”
We can’t do it in five minutes. Another line for Greta’s next speech.
600,000 tonnes of coal ready to send CO2 into the atmosphere. With exploratory drilling finished they are ready to start work in 2022.
But just 20 k’s down the road, there’s a proposal to use some of our good clean hydro electricity for a big datacentre. Meridian already support it.
Marginal cost of electricity for operating this massive centre is the key attraction.
Of course, data centres aren’t massive direct providers of employment, but they have been seen as enablers of economic development as they enable the digital economy to advance quickly. Likely more chances of nationally-domiciled spinoffs than there have been from Bluff aluminium that’s for sure.
A new trans-pacific data cable plan brings this plan one step closer.
Hasn’t happened yet, $700m of bold cash needed to front to make it happen. Also Tiwai Point to close since it will need around 100MW annually, new branch mains feed, etc. Not easy. Hard.
And sure, free enterprise means deals happen between those who hold property and those who hold investment capital. Business. But the regulator Southland Council didn’t need to hand over the trees of property owner Southland Council to help the coal diggers from Australia.
On the same week as COP-26 and we sign up to all manner of promises, could the government not at least have made a statement stating what they wanted to see happen to this country, starting with Southland? Can we even try to keep the coal in the ground?
With its lines just a few kilometres away, could the most critical state agency charged with our energy transition even start to figure out how it might assist?
With coal deals like this supported by local councils, silence from central government on alternatives, and aggressive Aussies with money simultaneously gaming local government (Bathurst) and central government (Rio Tinto), our desired low-carbon future economy appears very, very hard.