Forest & Bird is warning that today’s decision to grant consent for an opencast coal mine on public land – some of it on New Zealand’s conservation estate – could push great spotted kiwi and other endangered species such as South Island fernbird and the West Coast green gecko closer to extinction.
The West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council today granted resource consent for the approximately 150 hectare opencast Te Kuha coal mine, near Westport.
Photos of the area and the species found there can be downloaded here.
“It’s horrifying that land held for conservation could be dug up for a mine in the 21st century,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
“Everybody agrees that this area has high ecological values. It’s one of our forgotten places – home to the largest population of our rarest butterfly, but languishing in the lowest category of conservation land."
“This mining industry claims the economic benefits outweigh the costs, but in fact these benefits are overstated and the costs much higher than suggested."
"This a dirty industry that does not stick to consent conditions, causes irreparable damage to precious landscapes, and leaves a huge environmental legacy of acid mine drainage for future generations to clean up," says Mr Hague.
“The Department of Conservation was muzzled from advocating against the mine, with the Crown putting in a neutral submission. This is a situation that should never have been allowed to happen. We want to see a return to DOC’s ability to advocate for conservation.”
Forest & Bird has 15 working days to lodge an appeal of the decision with the Environment Court. Stevenson Mining Ltd still needs access arrangements from the Buller District Council and the Department of Conservation.