Coal decision fails to consider all effects

A decision to grant resource consent for a new opencast coal mine has failed take into account all the negative effects, says West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves.

The Commissioners for the Mt William North Mine proposal did not consider the effect burning the coal would have on climate change, or on ocean acidification – now widely considered the ‘other’ CO2 problem and no less serious than climate change itself.

“This mine would severely impact an ecologically sensitive area – home to kiwi and rare ecosystems,” says Ms Hargreaves. “It’s wrong to balance this against short term economic benefits when other negatives – including the economic impacts climate change and ocean acidification – aren’t even considered.”

West Coast Environment Network, along with the Royal Forest and Bird Society, has an appeal awaiting a decision at the High Court on whether an amendment to the Resource Managment Act (RMA) excludes climate change from coal mining – and by implication all – considerations under the RMA. “But this doesn’t stop consideration of ocean acidification,” says Ms Hargreaves.

The Mt William North Mine is a proposed 240ha mine in the upper Waimangaroa Valley, near Westport, and part of a long string of mines proposed by state-owned coal miner Solid Energy. Other coal mining proposals in the area, such as Happy Valley and Denniston, have been contentious because of the unique biodiversity of the Stockton-Denniston Plateax and the climate change consequences of mining coal.

West Coast Environment Network (, 21 August 2012. Press release.

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