Forest & Bird is welcoming the Department of Conservation’s decision to join the appeal of the Te Kuha coal mine project.
“The new government vowed to restore DOC's statutory function to advocate for the environment,” says Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague. “Here is the evidence of that shift in direction.”
In November 2017, the West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council granted resource consent for the approximately 150 hectare coal mine project. In December, Forest & Bird announced it would appeal the decision to the Environment Court.
“It’s wonderful that the Department will be able to bring in experts on the area’s special plants and animals, to inform the court,” says Mr Hague.
The mine would remove part of an intact forested mountain, clearly visible from Westport.
The site is home to great spotted kiwi and a host of other species threatened with extinction, including South Island fernbird, West Coast green gecko and the largest known population of the rare forest ringlet butterfly. Part of the proposed mine is also within the Buller Gorge outstanding landscape.
A date for the appeal has not been set.
Notes for journalists:
- DOC is able to join the appeal process under Section 274 of the Resource Management Act. The joining notice can be found here.
- DOC's original submission on the resource consent, made jointly with MBIE, was neutral.
- Stevenson Mining Ltd is still awaiting a decision from the Ministers of Conservation and Energy & Resources on access to approximately 12 ha of conservation land required for the mine.
- The company also needs access to Buller District Council’s water conservation reserve. In October 2017, Forest & Bird argued in the High Court that the Crown Minerals Act does not override the Council’s obligations under the Reserves Act to maintain the natural features of the reserve. A decision is expected soon.