Law change could influence decisions on destructive seabed mining

The National Government's proposed changes to the law governing seabed mining could make it easier for Trans-Tasman Resources to carry out destructive seabed mining off the South Taranaki coast, the Green Party said today.

Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) has re-applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to mine the seabed off the South Taranaki coast for iron ore, despite its previous application being declined by the EPA.

“The Government's Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, will allow the Minister, rather than the independent EPA, to appoint the panel that considers seabed mining applications," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“This proposed law change means that National can handpick the people who decide on controversial and high-impact activities like seabed mining and oil and gas drilling.

“The changes in the Bill are clearly an attempt to politicise decision-making and give the Minister greater influence.

“The National Government appears to have proposed this law change after strong lobbying from the mining industry following the original EPA decision to decline TTR’s application to mine the seabed off South Taranaki.

“There was huge public opposition to TTR’s earlier South Taranaki proposal because of the destructive and experimental nature of seabed mining. Nothing has changed since the EPA declined that application which would now justify mining proceeding.

“It is disappointing that the community will once again have to put significant time and energy into mobilising its resources and expertise to make submissions and present evidence to protect the seabed and coastal and marine environment.

“Seabed mining would generate major sediment plumes, and threatens the habitat of Maui’s dolphin and other mammals and marine life,” said Ms Sage.

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