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Forest & Bird appealing High Court decision on mining in reserves

Connor Haley
te kuha area thumbnail
Mt Te Kuha   Supplied

Forest & Bird is appealing a High Court decision to allow a mining company access to the Westport Water Conservation Reserve.

The decision from the Buller District Council will allow mining company Stevenson Limited access to the Reserve for the Te Kuha coal mine project .

Last month the High Court decided that, when the Crown Minerals Act was passed in 1991, it implicitly repealed the protections of the Reserves Act for special features such as native plants and animals, and scenic values.

“We disagree with this decision," West Coast regional manager Jen Miller said. 

"In Forest & Bird’s view, the Crown Minerals Act does not override the council’s obligations under the Reserves Act to protect the reserve's natural features.

"The reserve is home to species of threatened birds, lizards and plant species including the great spotted kiwi, the South Island fernbird and the West Coast green gecko."

Miller said she had "absolutely no idea but we wouldn't appeal if we didn't think we had a chance".

Mine site at Mt Te Kuha
Proposed Mine site at Mt Te Kuha Supplied

Stevenson Mining Companies Chief Operating Officer Anne Brewster said the company are disappointed with the many appeals coming from Forest and Bird, "it is not a big project and the coal found inside will not be used for fossil fuel but used for kidney dialysis and mobile phone parts".

She added that the mine is a great opportunity for the region although it is only small scale she believes it will provide a number of jobs for residents on the West Coast.

Brewster acknowledged that many people believe the mine will destroy the environment but wants to make it clear the project is on a very small scale and the environmental footprint it will leaves will be minor.

A court date has not yet been set.

What do you think?

Should the Minerals Act trump the Reserves Act when considering open cast mining on a publicly owned reserve?