Forest & Bird heading to Environment Court to defend Te Kuha

Forest & Bird is appealing the decision to grant resource consent to the proposed Te Kuha open cast coal mine, near Westport.
 
“We’re taking this to the Environment Court, because this place is too special to dig up for a coal mine,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
 
Last month the West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council granted resource consent for the approximately 150 hectare coal mine project. The mine would remove part of an intact forested mountain, clearly visible from Westport.
 
“Everybody agrees that this area has high ecological values. The vegetation that would be dug up for the mine is rare and pristine. “
 
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.
 
“We are appealing to prevent an open cast coal mine from removing these very special plants and animals, and destroying an important landscape.”
    
“This mining industry claims the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs, but in fact the benefits are overstated and the costs much higher than suggested,” says Mr Hague.

Stevenson Mining Ltd still needs access arrangements from the Buller District Council and the Department of Conservation. Approximately 12 ha of the proposed mine’s footprint is on conservation land, with the remainder on a Buller District Council water conservation reserve.

In October, 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.