Taranaki seabed mining application declined

An application to mine ironsands off the south Taranaki coast has been declined.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision, released today, has come after months of hearings around the country.

Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) applied to undertake ironsand extraction in a 65.76 sq km area between 22 and 36km off the coast of Patea. The company wants to take up to 50 million tonnes of seabed material per year for 20 years.

The marine consent application was the first hearing under new Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) legislation, which came into force in June last year.

In today's decision, the five-member panel said the major reason for refusing consent was the uncertainty around the scope and significance of potential environmental effects.

"[The committee] was not satisfied that the life-supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded or that the adverse effects of the proposal could be avoided, remedied or mitigated, given the uncertainty and inadequacy of the information presented," the EPA said in a statement.

TTR says it is "extremely disappointed" with the decision.

When the hearing began in Wellington in March, TTR executive chair Tim Crossley said the project would open up a new industry for the country.

The company had invested $8 million into research, and Mr Crossley estimated it would benefit New Zealand by $240 million a year in jobs and maintenance.

"We have put a significant amount of time and effort into developing this project, including consulting with iwi and local communities and undertaking detailed scientific research to assess environmental impacts of the project," Mr Crossley says.

"Our objective has been to develop an ironsands extraction project which achieves substantial economic development while protecting the environment."

He says New Zealand staff and consultants now have a "very uncertain future".

"[The company] will be gutted, because it would've had significant economic benefits," says Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes says the decision is a win for the environment, and how wrong the Government was to back the project.

The Greens and local iwi agree the power of protest has, in this case, had its place.

"We pushed for them to have this hearing in our backyard and this is one of those battles that we needed to win," says Debbie Packer from the local iwi Ngati Ruanui.

Other protesters are also satisfied with the decision and are celebrating, what they call, a victory for the deep blue.

"While we were a small group of people there's been about 8000 people behind us shouting and it's a wonderful, wonderful result," says Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) member Wanda Barker.

"It's definitely a precedent setter, this decision… companies lined up wanting to mine our oceans all around [the] country and this really changes the game," says KASM member Phil McCabe.

TTR has 15 days to lodge an appeal in the High Court, which can only be made on points of law.

The company says it will be reviewing the decision and what it means for the project and for the business.

3 News

source: newshub archive