By Angela Beswick
The Government has confirmed its U-turn on mining protected conservation land at a press conference in Wellington this morning.
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government will not remove any land from Schedule 4 for the purposes of mining.
The Government had proposed mineral exploration in 7000ha of conservation land in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park.
Mr Brownlee said the Government had received around 37,500 submissions since the release of a discussion document in March - the majority of which opposed the mining proposals.
No land will be removed from Schedule 4 land to be mined. Instead the Government will look to undertake aerial magnetic survey of non-Schedule 4 land in Northland and the West Coast.
"At the time the discussion document was released, I made it clear that it was a discussion," Mr Brownlee said.
"There were no preconceived positions from the Government.
"We have no intention of mining national parks."
However, he rejected suggestions that it was a Government backdown.
"The broader picture here is that we have an industry that has been neglected for many years, with enormous potential," he said.
"For us to ignore that, without consulting the public, would have been inappropriate."
The Government will add 14 areas, totalling 12,400ha, to Schedule 4, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said.
"In future, all areas given classifications equivalent to Schedule 4 areas - such as national parks and marine reserves - will automatically come under Schedule 4," she said.
Ms Wilkinson said this was in response to the fear expressed by those making submissions, that the Government would consider allowing mining in national parks in future by taking this possibility off the table.
Mr Brownlee said the proposal process had been a "valuable exercise".
"I think most New Zealanders didn't realise that the country had such significant mineral potential. I think that's now changed."
This is breaking news, more to follow.
source: newshub archive