Stuff NZ | February 10 2017
Taranaki iwi say they were not given enough notice of a conference being held today ahead of a hearing on plans to mine millions of tonnes of iron-laden sand off the southern Taranaki coast.
More than 13,733 submissions have been received over Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine the seabed off Patea.
Next Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency will begin its hearing on the application in Wellington.
Today, Friday, the EPA is holding a pre-hearing conference at the Westpac Stadium – but iwi say they only had a week’s notice as the hearing was announced on an EPA website the day the long Waitangi Day weekend began.
“Announcing a hui to consider critical matters of the hearing process with only a week’s notice, requiring RSVP only two working days later, speaks volumes to the very concerns iwi and others in the South Taranaki community have about the EPA process,” Kaitumuaki Cassandra Crowley, of Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust, said.
She said iwi found out about the pre-hearing conference while searching for updates on the application.
“At such short notice, it is difficult for iwi and many other Taranaki community-based submitters and individuals to attend a hui in Wellington.”
Crowley said critical technical submissions would be determined at the conference.
The iwi questioned whether the EPA had sufficient resources to properly assess the application, she said.
They also wanted to know why hearings were being held away from the affected area and where the most affected people were based.
EPA principal communications advisor Helen Corrigan said the EPA did have sufficient resources to process the TTR application.
She said the decision-making committee advised on February 3 that a pre-hearing conference would be held on February 10 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
This was posted on the EPA’s website on February 3 and all submitters and the applicant were notified the same day.
Submitters who indicated in their submission they could receive electronic correspondence were emailed on February 3 and submitters who had indicated in their submission they could not receive electronic correspondence were sent a letter on the same day.
TTR first lodged an application to mine off the South Taranaki coastline in 2013. This was subsequently rejected by the EPA.
The current application was lodged last year and, like the original application, has been met by strong opposition within South Taranaki.
Local iwi Ngāruahine, Ngaa Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui have expressed concerns about the EPA process throughout the latest application.