November 23, 2017
DOC muzzled on coal consent
A decision by the West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council to grant resource consent for the opencast Te Kuha coal mine near Westport could create a headache for the new Minister for Conservation.
Some of the 150 hectare site is conservation land and Stevenson Mining Ltd needs to arrange access with the district council and the Department of Conservation.
Jen Miller from Forest and Bird says the land area has high ecological values but was classed by the department in lowest category of conservation land.
She says the consent went through under the structures imposed by the previous Government, where the department was effectively muzzled in its submission to the resource consent hearing.
"It was a neutral submission and it was a joint submission between them and MBIE (Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment). We feel really disappointed that happened because that means the department can't now appeal on a decision that is going to have significant impact on natural values on land that they manage and also they are simply not able to carry out their function which is to advocate for the protection of natural values," Ms Miller says.
Forest and Bird is considering an appeal.
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