Category Archives: New Zealand

NZ groups opposed to seabed mining plan prepare to go back to court

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has been leading the fight against seabed mining. SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | October 9 2018

Opponents of a plan to mine ironsand off the Taranaki coast are hoping the Court of Appeal will set a precedent to discourage other companies with similar aspirations.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), Greenpeace, Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust, Te Kaahui o Rauru, Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) and the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board have all sought leave to cross-appeal on the High Court judgment that quashed Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd’s (TTRL) consent to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed for ironsand.  

The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to grant it a consent was unlawful. 

Two weeks ago, TTRL sought leave to take its case to the Court of Appeal.

“There were a number of points we raised that the High Court decision did not uphold, and the Trans-Tasman Resources’ appeal has given us the opportunity to challenge those decisions,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“This is obviously a precedent-setting case, it’s the first application for consent, and it’s important to have this precedent as strong as possible.”

She said there were other companies interested in seabed mining along the country’s West Coast.

In May, Offshore Ironsands Mining Ltd was granted permission for mining exploration inside a marine sanctuary set up to protect the endangered Māui’s dolphins off the coast of New Plymouth.

“Our cross-appeal is a logical step to take in this precedent-setting decision, as there are other seabed mining companies waiting in the wings. There are enough pressures on our oceans already without having to deal with the impacts of seabed mining,” Emily Hunter of Greenpeace said.

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust is cross appealing on points including its mana whenua interest and rights and the EPA’s failure to take the cautionary approach required by the Act.

“We want to make sure that anyone else that comes in has to reach this extremely high benchmark, they’re not able to just bowl in without doing the research they’re required to do,” Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

The iwi was disappointed the Labour Government had not included the mining programme in its move towards stopping oil and gas prospecting.

“We’re putting a lot of effort into fighting this sunset industry with absolutely shocking environmental practices, when we should be focusing on developing a progressive economy and energy sector we can all be proud of.”

Te Kaahui o Rauru and Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) have jointly lodged a cross appeal.

Kaiwhakahaere (CEO) Anne-Marie Broughton said the process had been exhausting and expensive, but Te Kaahui o Rauru likened the protection of the sea to the protection of the marae.

“The ocean is a fragile and largely unknown ecosystem and the problem is that if we damage it, we don’t know how to fix it up again. We must stand up for our environment. There are other ways to grow a healthy and sustainable economy – seabed mining is not the answer.”

The Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board has also resolved to defend the High Court’s decision, as well as to seek leave to cross-appeal in order to have the High Court’s decision confirmed on other grounds.

“It’s disappointing that we have to continue to fight to protect our environment,” chairperson Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu said.

A spokesperson from the Court of Appeal said Forest and Bird and the Fisheries Interests had also filed cross appeals.

No date had yet been set for a hearing.

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NZ Seabed mining battle continues

Ngati Ruanui protested against Trans-Tasman Resources’ bid for marine consent to mine the seabed for iron sand. More than 6000 people signed the petition calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. (File photo: Monique)

TTR plans to appeal seabed mining decision

Jane Matthews | Stuff NZ | September 21 2018

Trans Tasman Rescorses have decided to appeal the High Court decision that quashed their consent to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years. (File photo)

A mining company who has had their controversial consent to mine the seabed off South Taranaki denied for the second time has decided to appeal the High Court decision to stop them.

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) has been trying to gain access to mine the South Taranaki seabed for years and was granted it in August 2017 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, about three weeks ago the High Court quashed their consent on the grounds that the company’s method of environmental management was illegal.

TTR executive chairman Alan Eggers announced on Friday the company intended to lodge an appeal against the High Court’s decision, but first had to gain the permission of the court to do so. 

“Today TTR has lodged a notice to the Court of Appeal to seek leave to appeal the High Court judgment of August 28, 2018 regarding our marine consents for the South Taranaki Bright iron sands project,” Eggers said.

“It’s before the court and we’ll respect that and we’ll now have to see if the court will accept an appeal.”

Eggers would not answer any of Stuff‘s questions but said the basis of TTR’s appeal would be that they believe the EPA did follow a “legally correct approach in granting a marine discharge consent”.

The High Court decision to quash TTR’s contract, which granted consent from the EPA to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years, was because they’d planned to use an “adaptive management approach”.

Adaptive management is allowing an activity with uncertain effects and continually assessing it – essentially trying it out, seeing what happens and adapting the conditions accordingly, which was argued to be illegal under New Zealand law applying to the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairperson Cindy Baxter wished TTR would just ‘go away’ after years of battling. TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

Cindy Baxter is the chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm), who were one of the parties who appealed the granting of consent, and said she was “unsurprised” with TTR’s desire to appeal the decision.

This is TTR’s second application to mine. It first applied and was denied in 2014, and Baxter was sick of them continuing to push despite denial and vocal opposition.

“I really wish that they would just go away – there’s a huge opposition,” she said.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of tens of thousands of people.”

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NZ fishing industry celebrates win over deep-sea mining proposal

Intrafish via Fishing Hacks

New Zealand’s fishing industry successfully appealed against the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision to allow Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine 50 million metric tons of seabed annually, and discharge 45 million metric tons of waste sediment into the waters off the coast of Taranaki for 35 years.

The appeals were lodged by Cloudy Bay Clams, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Talley’s Group, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Te Runanga O Ngati Ruanui Trust, Forest and Bird, Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, and the Trustees of Te Kahui O Rauru.

TTR’s first application was refused in June 2014 after a Decision Making Committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA found the application was premature and more time should have been taken to understand the proposed operation, its effects on the receiving environment and existing interests.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ) Chief Executive Jeremy Helson, said TTR’s most recent application was almost identical to the first, and did not address the EPA’s key reasons for refusing TTR’s application in 2014.

“By allowing the appeal, the High Court has today confirmed our view that the application, and the DMC’s decision, were deficient,” he said. “The court quashed the decision saying the narrow interpretation of the adaptive management approach was inconsistent with the law.

“This is a good decision by the High Court and we are pleased this matter has again been rejected,” said Helson. “It is clear from these failed attempts that a significant re-think is required on seabed mining.”

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Environmentalists win appeal against seabed mining decision

KASM chairwoman Cindy Baxter said the news was a victory for those who fought against the seabed mining consent. TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein and Christina Persico  | Stuff NZ | August 28 2018

The South Taranaki Bight seabed mining decision was overturned because its method of environmental management was illegal, the High Court ruled.

In August last year, Trans Tasman Resources was granted consent to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66sqkm area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years by the Environmental Protection Authority. Following a split decision a casting vote was used in favour of TTR’s consent. 

However, the decision was appealed in the High Court by 11 parties and a hearing was carried out in the Wellington High Court in April, but Justice Peter Churchman reserved his decision. The decision was released on Tuesday and ruled in favour of the environmentalists.

The judge ruled incorrect interpretation of legal terms around protecting the ocean environment “may well have influenced” the outcome of the seabed mining consent.

It was found the decision-making committee’s (DMC) conditions either was or contributed to an “adaptive management approach”, which was not permitted in an area governed by the EEZ Act, and labelled a “suck it and see” method by appellants. 

Adaptive management is allowing an activity with uncertain effects and continually assessing it – any unanticipated effects must be able to be managed by changing or stopping the activity.  

The judge ruled that the interpretation was “inconsistent with the purpose of the Act” in protecting the environment from pollution and with the obligation to favour caution and environmental protection if the information available was inadequate.

The error “may well have” influenced the outcome of the consent application, it was ruled.

“The appeal is allowed and the decision of the DMC [decision making committee] is quashed. The matter is referred back to the DMC for reconsideration, applying the correct legal test in relation to the concept of adaptive management approach,” the decision outcome said. 

The appellents argued it was illegal under New Zealand law applying to the EEZ and continental shelf, and the judge agreed.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) and Greenpeace issued a joint press release saying the overturning was a “victory for the oceans”. 

“This is a victory for the thousands of people who have protested and the 13,000 who made submissions against this awful proposal, a victory for the South Taranaki Bight, the blue whales and the entire New Zealand marine ecosystem,” Kasm chair Cindy Baxter said.

The main part of the decision by Justice Churchman focused on what the appellants all argued was “adaptive management” – a practice of essentially “trying it out and seeing what happens, and adapting the conditions accordingly”. That, they argued, was illegal under New Zealand law applying to the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

The judge agreed with these arguments, and has sent the decision back to the EPA “for reconsideration, applying the correct legal test in relation to the concept of adaptive management approach”.

“This is a huge win for the oceans, and for people power. Oceans are the life support system of our planet,” Greenpeace NZ executive director Russel Norman said in the statement. 

“I certainly hope this will be the last we’ll see of these wannabe miners.”

In overturning the EPA’s decision, the High Court had prevented “vandalism” of the ocean and a habitat for blue whales, Norman said.

Chris Wilkes, who was with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) at the appeal hearing but has since resigned from his post, was heading out to sea just minutes after hearing the news.

“The whole idea of the ocean being desecrated is a personal thing for me, I’ll be sitting at Stent Rd knowing it’s safe, that’s such a relief.” 

Hopefully this is the last we see of TTR, he said.

“On a personal level it took a lot of my life, its great to see that has paid off.”

Ngati Ruanui said the High Court win proved voices and actions counted.

“We have fought this battle twice and won each time,”  Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

“This is a clear sign that the EPA did not get things right to start with so we hope they’re actually listening this time.”

Ngati Ruanui will keep up the pressure to decline this archaic form of economic development should TTR appeal this decision, Ngarewa-Packer said.

She said the iwi led the appeal because it “goes to the heart of who we are as tangata whenua, ensuring generations can enjoy our shoreline”.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand said the High Court decision “confirmed our view that the application, and the DMC’s decision, were deficient”.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the news would give the country’s only known population of blue whale a reprieve from the imminent threat of experimental seabed mining.  

“This area is habitat for 34 species of marine mammals, including Hector’s and Māui dolphins, humpback whales, and New Zealand’s own population of blue whale,” Hague said in a statement.

“This activity would likely kill everything on the seafloor, and severely disrupt the habitat of blue whales and other sound sensitive creatures.”

The Green Party’s Gareth Hughes said: 

“Risking the habitat of threatened Blue Whales and the world’s smallest and most endangered dolphin, the Maui’s for a quick buck went against New Zealanders values and now, also against our law.

“The Green Party has long been opposed to seabed mining and is urging New Zealand adopt a seabed mining moratorium as other states have.”

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Another NZ seabed mining permit lapses

Another seabed mining permit lapses: industry future is in question

KASM | Scoop NZ | 1 August 2018

The news that seabed mining company Trans Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR) has let yet another New Zealand mining permit lapse was heralded today by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining.

On Thursday last week, the TTR prospecting permit for a 4435 square kilometre section of the seabed off the West Coast quietly lapsed, and is not being renewed. This is the second such permit the company has allowed to lapse in the last six months, the first being near Kawhia off the North Island’s West Coast just south of Raglan.

The company has confirmed that it has let the permit lapse as it waits for the result of a High Court appeal (heard in April) brought by KASM and a number of other interests against the EPA’s consent for mining a 66sqkm area of the South Taranaki Bight seabed. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, there will be a long process before it’s resolved, with the possibility of more court action, or another EPA hearing.

“This gives the Government an opportunity to re-think the logic of these seabed mining bids off our coastlines, not least because of the threat to endangered species like Māui and Hector’s dolphins, fisheries, seabirds and our surf breaks,” said KASM chairperson, Cindy Baxter.

“After years of effort, where are we? Two seabed mining applications have been refused, a third is under appeal, permits are dropping like flies, the companies are struggling financially, there are still huge concerns around the environmental impact, and opposition is growing stronger by the day. It’s time for the government to put a stop to this madness.” 

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Te Atiawa and Taranaki Iwi fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activity

In addition to endangered Māui dolphins, other marine mammals, including fur seals, common dolphins, and orcas (killer whales) can be found in the Marine Park boundaries.

Te Atiawi iwi | 13 July 2018

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust are fundamentally opposed to seabed mining activities within their tribal rohe.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust were notified of the exploration permit application by Ironsands Offshore Mining Ltd in 2016 and each iwi made a submission opposing the application back in September 2016.

Both Iwi organisations were informed of the granting of the permit on 8 June 2018, a month after the permit had been granted by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals on 8 May 2018.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust Chairperson Liana Poutu is concerned that the permit area includes a Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

“The permit has been granted inside a Marine Mammal Sanctuary which is administered and managed by the Department of Conservation.

“We find it difficult to understand how one arm of government, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, can cut across another arm of government and make these kinds of decisions without engagement on the issue.

“The permit area also sits inside a mineral mining exclusion zone, so although it’s only exploration at this stage the implication is that if exploration is successful there is an expectation that a mining permit will be granted in an area that excludes this activity.

“Fundamentally, the iwi and hapū of Te Atiawa are opposed to this activity,” she says.

Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust Chairperson Leanne Horo says that the protection of our environment is a focus for Taranaki Iwi.

“Taranaki Iwi’s focus is on protecting, enhancing and sustaining the mouri of Tangaroa ki Tai.

“The Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and Tapuae Marine Reserve sit within the Te Atiawa tribal rohe and our Taranaki Iwi tribal rohe so it’s concerning to us that the permit has been granted in close proximity to these areas.

“We are launching our environmental management plan, Taiao Taiora, in the coming week which outlines our position on environmental issues.

“Taranaki Iwi is fundamentally opposed to any new mining or prospecting activity taking place within our rohe,” she says.

The permit area at its closest is 2.8km from shore, and sits almost entirely in the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary established in 2008. The permit area at its closest is 0.45km from the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area and at its closest is 1km from the Tapuae Marine Reserve. The permit area overlaps the Mineral Mining Exclusion Zone in two places.

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Seabed mining concerns taken to United Nations

Kataraina Graham, 2, was part of the Ngati Ruanui seabed mining protest at Castlecliff in September 2017. Photo Bevan Conley.

Simon Waters | Wanganui Chronicle | 27 June 2018

Ngā Rauru is taking its concerns about proposed seabed mining in the South Taranaki Bight to the United Nations.

Te Kaahui o Rauru board member Te Huia Bill Hamilton will present them to the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He heads to Geneva for the five-day conference this month and will be representing the National Iwi Chairs’ Forum.

Consent given for the mining breaches International Human Rights Law and marginalises the iwi’s views, he said.

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