Thursday 31st August 2017
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(Recasts lede, updates to add comment from Trans-Tasman Resources executive chairman in the second paragraph)
Two lobby groups have lodged appeals against the Environmental Protection Authority's decision to grant Trans-Tasman Resources consent to mine iron sands from the ocean floor in the South Taranaki Bight, but the mining company is confident it can win.
Trans-Tasman Resources executive chairman Alan Eggers told BusinessDesk the appeals were expected and the company is "very confident of winning the appeals, and soon."
Kiwis Against Seabed Mining lodged an appeal on 15 points of law including failing to require adequate information from Trans Tasman Resources and failing to require Trans Tasman Resources to provide environmental baseline information.
TTR has sought permission to extract 50 million tonnes of seabed material a year to export up to 5 million tonnes of iron sand per year twice now. It was first rejected in 2014 when a committee ruled the environmental impacts of the proposal were too difficult to gauge on the evidence available. The company went back to the drawing board and a second hearing was held between February and May this year. Consent was granted this month, under a series of conditions. Among other things, those conditions include a pre-commencement monitoring plan that must collect two years' worth of data before mining commences.
KASM has called for the High Court to set the decision aside, its chair Cindy Baxter said. "KASM is appealing because the EPA made a bad decision, a decision that we believe is wrong in law as well as in principle– and we have seen an overwhelming response against it,” she said.
The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society also said it would lodge an appeal.
According to Forest & Bird, the area is home to more than 30 species of marine mammals, including some that are critically endangered, including blue whales and Māui’s dolphins. It is an important migratory corridor for humpback whales. Little blue penguins use the area, and the Patea Shoals are an important natural area closer to shore.
“We think the EPA’s decision to grant consent fails to protect the environment, and doesn’t meet the requirements of the EEZ Act," said Forest & Bird’s Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
Officials at TTR were not immediately available for comment.
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