- Date published:
10:09 am, June 18th, 2018 - 94 comments
Categories: Conservation, Economy, Environment, Mining, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags: eugenie sage
A week is a long time in politics. A week ago Green Minister Eugenie Sage was being lambasted for not stopping a Chinese water supply company from buying sensitive land in Aotearoa New Zealand. Now she is being attacked by the right for refusing to allow conservation land from being desecrated.
A controversial application to mine coal on conservation land on the West Coast has been declined by the Government.
The company behind the mining proposal said the announcement was “just another kick in the teeth” for the West Coast community, while environment groups have celebrated the decision as one “future generations of New Zealanders will be thankful for”.
Forest and Bird had taken Rangitira Developments Ltd to the Environment Court over the application, which would have allowed mining in a 12 hectare patch of conservation land at Te Kuha, near Westport.
The company still has access to about 96ha of reserve surrounding the conservation land that it could develop. However, it had indicated the mine would not be economically viable without the higher-grade coal within the conserved area.
The mine was estimated to provide about 60 jobs to the region but would have done “irreparable damage to an area with very high, unique and nationally significant conservation values”, a joint statement released on Saturday by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Energy Resources Megan Woods.
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.
“We have seen, with the major lay offs at Stockton [Mine], with the establishment of the Escarpment then being mothballed that coal has been a rollercoaster industry. It hasn’t provided long-term sustainable jobs.
“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.”
Buller Mayor Gary Howard has criticised the decision and has described the mining proposal as “boutique”. That is a funny phrase to describe the desecration of a pristine natural area. Again from Radio New Zealand:
Buller Mayor Garry Howard said the decision put the whole project, and 60 jobs, in doubt, as the land in question was at the entrance to the larger site.
“It has a large effect for employment and we’re trying to diversify from mining but there is a place for boutique mining such as this one.”
Mr Howard said DOC had 1.6 million hectares of land on the West Coast, and this application involved just 12 hectares of it.
It was not that long ago that National wanted to remove protection from significant areas of conservation land. It only backed down from its position after huge public pressure.
And Simon Bridges has rekindled thoughts that National may still be open to such an approach by saying that National has no problems allowing the mining of conservation land that is not “pristine”. From Newshub:
Simon Bridges says National would have no problem approving coal mining on conservation land that isn’t “pristine”.
The Government on Saturday said it had declined an application to build an open-cast mine across 12 hectares in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area on the South Island’s West Coast.
Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday he wasn’t sure if the party agreed or disagreed with the Government’s decision, because it’s yet to be discussed in caucus.
But he said National “definitely” opposes what he’s calling a “blanket ban” on mining in conservation areas.
“A third of New Zealand is conservation estate. Some of it’s pristine – there shouldn’t be coal mining. But some of it’s scrubland.”
Nearly 30 percent of New Zealand is conservation land, but not all of it is Schedule 4 land – the most protected. The previous National Government did plan to allow mining in Schedule 4 land, but backtracked after 50,000 people took to the streets in Auckland in 2010.
A few years later Mr Bridges, then Energy and Resources Minister, signed off a block offer for exploration in Victoria Forest Park – the biggest of its kind in New Zealand. He later admitted he had never heard of it before he signed it off.
Victoria Forest Park isn’t Schedule 4 land, and nor is the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area, east of Westport. Nonetheless, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage called it “an undisturbed area which is precious and unique and supports complex and diverse habitats for threatened plants and wildlife”, including kiwi, snails and lizards.
The earlier incident where Bridges granted a block offer allowing for prospecting of Victoria Forest Park and admitted he had never heard of the area. Hopefully such indifference to our environment will not be shown again.
These West Coast Mayors should be turfed out. Are they seriously complaining, like Taranaki, that they didn’t see this coming? Why haven’t they pulled finger and encouraged some other industry? Time they stepped into the 20th Century.
What sort of industry should they encourage?
Ask them as after all they’re meant to be leaders of their communities so time they showed the folk who voted them in they’re either progressive or dinosaurs.
Extractive industries such as Mining/Forestry are probably the best economic option for places like the West coast which have low population spread out over a large area with significant transport issues. Tourism is the other major option but it is very low paying industry for most people involved and also comes with capacity and environmental issues. If you look at potential high return low impact industries such as IT the West Coast has significant disadvantages which mean it is unlikely to compete with places such as Christchurch, Wellington, or Auckland.
Well then – perhaps we should just make the whole place a conservation estate and move everyone out of it.
No point having anyone there if there’s nothing that they can do.
No point in wasting money in doing that Draco. Just let the current policies do the work for you.
Forestry’s an “extractive” industry? They claim it’s a sustainable industry, with no net loss???
Logging is extractive unless plantings occur. I am not sure if native forestry on the West coast involves plantings. I suspect not. It doesn’t mean it isn’t sustainable if you manage the resources carefully.
“unless plantings occur”
Well they do, don’t they. In any case, dairy would sweep in. Can’t dairy farm in a crater.
I was going to make a similar comment.
This clown thinks you can just pull an industry out of your arsehole.
Isn’t that where your “thoughts” come from?
Native logging . I tree a hectare every ten years should do it . But na greenies just take jobs and workers be damned.
Yes welcome to the Green Party, fucking NZ one industry at a time.
Farming will be next wag.
Farming will be next
I hope so.
nakered man farmers are their own worst enemies voting in National year after year .
The scolds party of the farmers allowing fonterra to under invest in R&D deliberately under funding bio security.
Not following through on stock movement monitoring leaving the tax payer to pick up the $880 million bill.
Do you like Mt Taranaki? Do you think that it should be blown up for a mine?
What a silly question.
Tell me. Do you think windfarms are a good thing?
If so you clearly want to install them all over Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill. You are therefore an environmental vandal.
Your question about Mt Taranaki is completely stupid.
Just to be clear I have no problem with stopping mining and drilling .It’s the complete lack of replacement jobs for us no office dwellers that’s fucking me off .
The mining industry will become largely automated in 10-20 years anyway. The romantic days of coal mining are gone. Any new mines will only employ a handful of people.
Why do you hate poor people millsy?
I would ask the same of you Christopher.
What the hell was “romantic” about coal mining, particularly in the underground mines? I doubt that very many of the miners would have thought it so.
I suppose you think being a vassal tied to the land in a feudal society was just as “romantic” do you?
Is the life of the San, hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa, an idyllic one?
What sort of industry should they encourage? Monastic Communities. They exist in a variety of faiths in other parts of NZ and the natural beauty and isolation of the south island west coast would seem ideal. A place where people could go in search of solace and peace – a sort of “spiritual tourism”.
Like cult homestay tourism? There could be a range from Gloriavale to Centrepoint.
Foreigners will pay a lot to see Kiwi in the wild.
I asked a couple of MPs what they would recommend the people on the Coast to do.
One name Twyford, or Twtford or something like that said.
“If they don’t want to exist on the dole then they should get out of the area and go and live in Pokeno or Dairy Flat”
A Green one, who shall charitably be allowed to remain anonymous said.
“They should set up Morris Dancing schools. We plan to support them by using the arrival levy on those evil businessmen who come here to try and set up firms to employ New Zealanders in productive jobs and to spend the money on our preferred frivolities”.
alwynger the West Coast’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country!
Well you very thick Green Clown.
Your friends favour equality don’t they?
They are working very hard to get equality between Westland and the worst unemployment rates in the country, aren’t they?
Actually the unemployment rates in Westport, and even more so along the road through the proposed mining area seem to be worse than the average for the country.
It is not easy to tell from this map whether it is in the 4%-6% or in the more that 8% area.
It is hard to get recent accurate figures for the exact area, and they may never become available, because of the mess in the Census process.
“Morris Dancing schools”!!
Nearly died laughing, you Great Wit, alwyn!
Maybe Alwhine is more of a “Shining Wit” according to Spooner.
Morris dancing? Not if idiots like this get their way…
As disappointed as I was with the water bottling decision, well done minister on this decision.
Now we can see what attitudes and opinions emerge.
For example Roy’s above.
Be rid of these mayors whose thinking belongs in the middle of the last century.
Time for new blood.
I do laugh when National go on about working with the greens or having a blue/Green Party etc when all they ever say is this sort of stuff. Mine conservation land reverse oil and gas exploration. How could they ever possibly work with any slightly Green Party?
You would have loved richardson on the am show this morn said in one breath that he’s green and that we should be mooning coal .
Is he thick or is he running Nat muddy the waters lines ?
“You would have loved richardson on the am show this morn said in one breath that he’s green and that we should be mooning coal”
I am not sure about the mooning, But most of us think we should be mining coal.
The link is not working but 63% say yes to mining coal
I doubt that the am shows polls can be taken seriously.
Brava to Eugenie Sage. The Mayors are behaving as they usually do – hand in glove with the business interests who put them in office. Just as the John Key Appointed ECAN councillors were put there to feather the nests of the irrigation and farming lobby.
Exactly and if it’s anything like Hawkes Bay or Waikato they’re lucky they’re not drinking contaminated water or having sewage in their harbours….or are they and don’t realise it ?
Epic fail for wider NZ and future generations from this bunch of NACT supporting troughers.
So all those lambasting her previously should now praise her for this
Same figure as used the water extraction story last week..
Mining water and mining coal…same script writers…
Very good point One two
The mayor on the radio reckoned the 12ha was needed for access rather than mining? Was he being a bit fibby?
it would seem:
The 12 ha area is part of the company‘s 116 ha mining proposal and compromises approximately 10 per cent of the planned mine site and open cast pit.
I don’t think you can conclude from the quote from the press release that the Mayor is making it up. The quote refers to “planned mine site”. That probably includes access, especially access that is relatively close to the “open cast pit”.
I don’t actually know the details of the mine site so don’t know one way or the other. However you have simply made an assumption about the mine when accusing the Mayor of “being a bit fibby.”
Though I note the Stuff report refers to high grade coal in the 12 hectares. I wonder if that was right. It seems unlikely the whole viability of the mine would depend on 12 hectares. But who knows?
Maybe the miner will go for a revised plan where they develop the mine without the 12 hectares.
Either the open cast pit extends into the area or it doesn’t. I know who i will believe out of the two.
Crown Land Block X Kawatiri SD
There is also two blocks
Section 14 Blk VIII Kawatiri SD Water Conservation Reserve
Section 17 Blk II Ohika SD Water Conservation Reserve
Not clear if these 2 are council reserve land or DOC reserve land
These 3 blocks constitute the bulk of the site.
The road access will pass over private land plus this small segment
Pt Section 6 Blk II Ohika SD which I presume is conservation reserve too from the reports.
Full list of stuff here
A summary of the Council Consent Commissioners says:
Even if it is only for access the environmental damage can be just as great.
Wayne if ever you travel down to the Karangahake Gorge you might like to take some time to travel off the main road to visit the site of the New Talisman mine which was granted consent on conservation land by the last National Govt. The access to the mine is up a public pathway and the mining company was been granted permission to fence and gate off some of the path. The driving of heavy vehicles up essentially an unformed road has caused severe damage to the path. This track is the main pathway onto Karangahake Mountain, a sacred mountain for local iwi. The development of the mine – if ever it was to take place – would entail large numbers for trucks trucking ore from the site to Waihi for processing. That is, they would be travelling through the Karangahake Gorge (much visited by tourists) which is along a narrow winding section of SH2. A section of road already at maximum carrying capacity, and one of the most twisting sections of road in NZ.
The particular road access block may be small but the larger Council Water reserve is significant for its ecologic diversity and otherwise unique characteristics and thats the area you would want to protect.
It’s only a kick in the teeth if the only thing that the West Coast can do is mining.
This is a great opportunity for Shane Jones to shine some of that billion dollar fund around and look at developing the region. What else can they do (Ask the West Coasters)? What infrastructure is needed to make that happen.
Of course, being a business person, he simply doesn’t give a shit about the West Coasters or the West Coast. He’s just concerned about the profit he can extract from them.
DTB your stoic dogmatic derision of any type of capitalism is right up their with Gosman etc fanatical derision of socialism.
So whats your evidence that socialism can survive without capitalism vice versa their is evidence that both can’t survive with out pragmatism.
Logic and evidence tells us that capitalism always fails.
Pragmatism doesn’t mean what you think it means:
Capitalism is simply not practical. What happens when a few people own everything and the rest have nothing?
Poverty and eventual collapse of society.
Exactly as we’re seeing.
And there’s been several societies throughout history which lived, sustainably and for thousands of years, under ‘socialist’ paradigms.
No capitalist system has survived more than a few hundred.
Ummm… we’ve only ever had Capitalist systems for a few hundred years.
Your argument would be like trying to state Electronic Computing will inevitable become redundant because the concept has only survived less than 100 years.
pragmatism trying strike a balance between ideologies.
Conveniently you have chosen your version to suit your argument.
Democracy reigns in the excesses of unfettered capitalism or communism.
Looking at the support level of both ideologies in NZ ACT<.5% socialist party< than .5%.
Pragmatism wins 99%.
Pragmatism is not an economic system.
gooseman its a balance between the 2 dogma’s .
Dewey was rather keen on pragmatism as I recall. His reputation remains reasonably good.
Actually, it is.
Well, technically, it’s a political-economic philosophy.
I used the dictionary definition. It is you is choosing the definition dogmatically.
A communist system is, by default, democratic. In fact, it would be true to say that a democracy is, by default, communist – the people are in charge and not some clique.
We don’t have a democracy. We have Representative Democracy which was designed to prevent democracy and leave the rich in charge which is what appears to be happening.
I also note that over more than thirty years in NZ the dogmatic faith has been deregulation and releasing the unfettered capitalist model – against the wishes of the people.
A pleasing decision
“The Minister has saved a whole mountain from being dug up and turned into a scar. But she’s also sent a clear message to the coal industry that they have no future in New Zealand (or at least, no future on conservation land, which is pretty much the same thing, because that’s where most of the coal is). If it has a chilling effect on future coal investment, so much the better: this is not an industry we want or can afford to have in New Zealand anymore. The sooner it dies, the better.”
The problem is that national will reopen conservation land when the tide of this government goes out.
The greens need to get some funding from the $1 billion to help improve the west coasts tourist infrastructure.
Tourism…and other alternatives. The economic wizards of the Right must have page after page of these viable alternatives ready to be deployed…yes?
Tourism is a bit of a joke. There is no way you will get the highly paid jobs that could make a real difference to the West Coasts long term prosperity just relying on Tourism.
Tourism’s a bit of a joke? I thought it was second only to dairying in importance to NZ’s economy.
How many highly paid jobs are there in Tourism?
So utilising natural resources is “desecration”? Better dismantle all those hydro dams, solar panels and wind farms then
“Utilising”, Richard? Mining is “utilising” and equivalent to hydroelectricity? One takes and leaves a hole, the other uses the passage of the resource and leaves it (the water) untouched (* best case scenario). But you knew this.
The hole isn’t the problem. Nature’s been dealing with them since forever. Lake Taupo is a good example.
Even the death of species isn’t really a problem. Another species will evolve to fill the slot.
The problem is the rate of change that mankind has force upon Nature and the outright poisoning of the environment that mankind almost inevitably does. These Nature cannot handle in such a short time frame which must result in the collapse of the entire world environment.
As we’re now seeing.
It doesn’t particularly do much for Labour’s credibility when they are doing this with what appears to be zero actual ideas of alternatives for small town economies.
They knew they were going to do it and had 9 years to come up with some
May be they can make it an underground mine. What could go wrong?
Chris T – coal towns “knew” this also, as did their mayors and industry leaders. So did the National Government of the time; did any of those make provision for this outcome? If not, why not?
Neither the towns or National wanted to wipe out mining
And as the govt doing it, it is their responsibility to not screw over NZ citizens in the process
Did neither attend any “threats and opportunities” workshops then?
And…Labour have wiped out mining?
This IS big news!
Richard McGrath strawman argument.
Richard moving the coast from 1800’s extractive industry is the way NZ needs to future proof our economy.
NZ is trapped in the past while other economies have modernized .
Micro Bovis is a warning how vulnerable New Zealand’s economy is.
We have barely moved our economy beyond the iron age.
Solar wind and hydro are all renewable energy sources.
That don’t need huge amounts of energy to constantly dig up huge amounts of ground then repeatedly transport the source of energy half way round the world requiring vast amounts of energy to do so.
A no brainer!
Good to see the right wingers on here wanting to blow the whole Southern Alps up to get the minerals.
Let’s face it, that is what they want. No national parks, no nothing, just a big mine. Give the mining industry and inch, they will take a mile. And no, the government isn’t shutting the whole industry down. Just keeping it out of DOC’s estate.
Here’s how it works. You say “we will return the area to its original state when the mine is exhausted.” Then, when your mountaintop removal mine is exhausted you say “why waste all this potential?”.
Then you get resource consent for a golf course and real estate development.
And then you get a knighthood, and the National Party minister who gave you the green light gets a directorship or two, because it’s all legal.
Let’s just remind those extractive capitalists and their elected supporters of the many New Zealand towns that started as extractive but evolved well into something that the country could cope with:
– Arrowtown (gold)
– Roxborough (gold)
– Alexandra (gold)
– Wanaka (gold)
– Cardrona (gold)
– Thames (gold)
– Coromandel (gold)
– Kaitaia (Kauri gum)
– Whangarei (Kauri logs)
Anyone trying to mine anywhere near those areas now would be hounded out of town by very rich landowners and environmentalists alike who are motivated to protect their interests and the common land.
The acceleration of Dunedin in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s was all down to gold.
Now it is a city dominated by a university.
We can all do the list of those towns who have failed to maximise the very long tourism boom. Ghost towns of New Zealand. Most of their failure comes down to lack of sustained and bold civic leadership, plus lack of a direct international airport.
It is said that Auckland was built on Otago gold, and Dunedin was built on Tahakopa’s timber.
But there are lots of industries for which the coast is uniquely suited. Wasabi. Sashimono carpentry. Farmed paua. Harakeke fibre and textiles. Jade carving. Beer. Microhydro construction and generation. To name a very few.
“…that started as extractive but evolved well… – Kaitaia…”
Been to Kaitaia lately?
gooseman its a balance between the 2 dogma’s .
Your ignorants show no bounds.
Look up the history then admit you have got it wrong gooseman.
Ffs you must be the dumbest troll around
Legalise cannabis and build secluded bush retreats where people can come from overseas, kick back and smoke a bit of pot in a beautiful relaxed natural setting with a good supply of nice cakes supplied by the bakery in town.
Might need a few good bakeries and restaurants to feed the munchies – I bet they could employ more than sixty people keeping all those tourists fed and comfortable.
Green industry would end the stranglehold of destructive industry in regions such as West Coast…
Governments know this and so do the toxic and chemical poison industry who have governments in their pocket…
Naki Man, you gutless bastard. I ask you again. Do you think that Mt Taranaki should be blown up and turned in a mine?
Calm down old trout,
No i quite like Mt Egmont just the way it is.
Why do you ask dear??
Beacause it’s clearly obvious you want to turn our great national parks into open cast mines for US mining companies.
The country has more than 10,000 protected areas, covering more than 8.6 million hectares (around 32% of the total land area). We are talking about mining 12 hectares to keep 60 people in highly paid employment, in area that has bugger all else they can do.
Firstly, there are plenty of existing mines on the Coast, and Labour/Green policy is to keep mines open until they are exhausted. Secondly, the 60 jobs will probably end up going to immigrants, thirdly 12 hectares will become 24, hectares,then 48 hectares, then 96, and so on, until US mining companies are given carte blanche to blow the top off the whole Southern Alps. Which is what you want. Finally, as the mining industry becomes more and more automated, there won’t be the need for that many staff to run a mine.
Its a specific ecosystem there, as they said during the resource consent process
“The vegetation of the proposed site is considered as one of the least modified
examples of Coal Measures vegetation in what is known as the Ngakawau Ecological District and is particularly significant because of the absence of recent fire.
These Coal Measure communities of Te Kuha area are part of a vegetation type (Coal Measures vegetation) that is virtually confined to the Ngakawau Ecological District.
This vegetation type is typical of ground containing coal deposits and contains a particularly unique combination of species in a complex mosaic of grassland, heathland, shrubland and low forest communities.
One of the outstanding features of the Coal Measures vegetation is the very high diversity of communities within a small area.”
Not all human communities are the same , why are we allways expecting ecosytems to be the same everywhere.
The coal mine isnt even expected to last a generation, a typical example of the cut it, dig it and ship it out process that really doesnt benefit the Coast at all.
What happens when the coal price plunges , the miners walk away. And yes steep open caste mines can have wall collapse too.
Coal has no future in a carbon-neutral economy.
But the people who actually work in coal mines can’t be thrown to the economic wolves – which they normally would be under capitalism when demand for a product starts evaporating for whatever reason.
Making the carbon-neutral transition liveable for people will need to be played out countless times over this century if we want to survive.
If NZ can’t even get this right over one sh*tty little coalmine, then God help us.
There is nobody working in that coalmine as it does not yet exist and hopefully never will.