Monday 15th July 2013 1 Comment
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Would-be West Coast coking coal miner Bathurst Resources has taken another small step closer to open cast mining on the Denniston Plateau following the High Court's rejection of an appeal on a side issue from the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand.
Justice John Fogarty's judgment, issued July 11, finds no merit in Forest & Bird's attempt to have an issue reconsidered, relating to an adjacent area known as the Sullivan Block, which might also one day be developed as a mine.
"The factual finding that the future of the Sullivan Mine is speculative rules out as a matter of law cumulative effect analysis," Justice Fogarty concluded. While a coal mining licence exists for the Sullivan Block, that was well short of a resource consent, which had to be applied for or granted.
Other recent decisions of the Court of Appeal made clear that the existence of a permitted activity "is not to be interpreted as allowing permitted uses to be taken into account when examining the receiving environment," the judgment says.
Forest & Bird has now lost a string of appeals against the resource consents granted to Bathurst in August 2011 by the Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council, which it has mounted while continuing to negotiate with Bathurst on a possible deal to allow mining to occur with additional environmental safeguards.
Forest & Bird first argued in the Environment Court that the Sullivan Block's potential to be developed as a mine meant its environmental impact should be taken into account alongside Bathurst's intention to develop its Escarpment mine project.
Escarpment is one of several open cast mines planned for the Buller Plateau by Bathurst to extract some of the best quality coking available globally for use in steel production.
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