Conservationists, iwi applaud Supreme Court decision stopping Taranaki seabed mining consents

Conservationists and iwi are overjoyed that a Supreme Court appeal to allow mining millions of tonnes of the south Taranaki seabed has failed.

In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) consent to mine 50 million tonnes of iron sand from the seabed every year for 35 years. The High Court overturned that decision the following year.

TTR appealed that decision in the Supreme Court, which unanimously dismissed it on Thursday.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is relieved her iwi's won another round against TTR.

"We're absolutely overwhelmed. It's the best decision and a conclusive decision," she says.

The decision was described by conservationists as the final nail in the coffin for seabed mining in New Zealand.

"I absolutely burst into tears - the dog was worried about me," says Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairperson Cindy Baxter. "It's been a very emotional day, it's been great."

The Court said the EPA made a fundamental error when granting mining consent and it simply could not be satisfied the environment would be protected.

"This is very very clear that the EPA needs to take a long hard look at itself," Baxter says.

The EPA will have a chance to look at the mining application again and the Court has referred it back to them to reconsider. TTR told Newshub there is nothing in the judgement to stop them from getting consent again and it certainly isn't planning to stop trying.

The eight-year court battle also set a precedent by testing Treaty of Waitangi environmental law at the highest level yet.

"Ti Tiriti, the Treaty of Waitangi, will have to become considered by the courts more than is currently legislated, so that is huge for us as Māori," Ngarewa-Packer says.

The winners of Thursday's decision are now calling on the Government to ban seabed mining forever.