04 May 2012

The Ministry has fallen

Is the Environment Court a bulwark against emissions-intensive projects such as open-cast coal mines that will provide the coal that will exacerbate climate change? You would think it would be wouldn't you?

You would think that our great history-making sustainability-promoting Resource Management Act would give a fair shake of the stick to the idea of considering climate change as some of the possible adverse effects of a proposal.

Especially if the proposal is an opencast export-oriented coal mine on protected conservation land, where adverse effects on biodiversity and on rare natural landforms would obviously be an issue.

Apparently not.

Bathhurst Resources Limited are a relatively new coal mining company in New Zealand. Bathhurst Resources would like to construct an open cast mine on an area of 200 hectares of conservation land on the southern Denniston Plateau, on the West Coast near Westport. Bathhurst would extract and export between one and four million tonnes of coal a year. Bathhurst call it the Buller Coal Project. Wikipedia calls it the Escarpment Mine Project. The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society calls it the wipe out of the ecology of the Denniston Plateau. Bathhurst Resources and Solid Energy have successfully made a pre-emptive strike against the appeals of the council decisions to grant resource consents to Bathhurst Resources for their proposed open cast coal mine in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau - the Escarpment Mine Project.

Bathhurst Resources and Solid Energy have successfully obtained a declaration from the Environment Court that climate change effects from the combustion of the coal cannot be considered in the appeal of the resource consents.

Dominion Post - Miner eyes fast-track option for Denniston

TVNZ Climate change ruling irresponsible

Forest and Bird - Court decision ignores serious threats of climate change

Otago Daily Times - Court will not consider climate change.

I am left wondering if the judge concerned bothered to attend one of James Hansen's talks last year.

It seems that the Environment Court is a bit like the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter novels. It denied that Voldemort had returned. It then weakly opposed him and then "The Ministry has fallen" under control of the Deatheaters.

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