Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | January 11, 2017
The Environmental Protection Authority has failed on two counts in the lead-up to hearings on Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to mine the South Taranaki seabed, Rochelle Bullock says.
Trans-Tasman Resources wants marine consents to mine nearly 66 square kilometres of seabed offshore from Patea. Hearings on the matter begin next month.
Ms Bullock liaised between opponent groups during Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR’s) last applications in 2013 and is doing so again. Opponents include iwi from the region, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and others.
The authority (EPA) has failed to keep in touch with submitters and also failed to hold hearings in the places where most of those who want to speak live, Ms Bullock claims.
Anyone who wants to speak during the hearings must contact the EPA before noon today to let it know. Otherwise they will not be able to speak.
Ms Bullock said that last time all the submitters were warned of the deadline by email, but that hasn’t happened this time. She was desperately trying to get the word out yesterday.
She also said it was not logical or ethical to hold hearings only in Wellington and New Plymouth. Submitters had asked for hearings in the places that would be most affected by the mining – from Patea south toward Whanganui.
Hearings for TTR’s first application were held in several places in 2013, including Pariroa Marae near Kakaramea and at the Wanganui District Council.
KASM says there have been 17,000 submissions to the applications. A spokeswoman for the EPA could not confirm this, saying as they were still being counted.
The “highest density” of people who wanted to speak at the hearings was in Whanganui, Ms Bullock said. The EPA could not confirm that either.
When Ms Bullock rang the EPA to ask why the hearings would only be in Wellington and New Plymouth, she was told those locations were more accessible and had venues.
She told the staff member there was no lack of venues in Whanganui. “It’s very unfair to expect a whole community to travel to Wellington or New Plymouth. [The hearings] should be held in the place of the people directly affected. There seems something very obviously wrong when you choose not to go to the people that are submitting,” she said.