National wants to destroy conservation land for mining and roads

The National Government has said it is open to disposing of conservation land to encourage mining on the West Coast and building a road through Kahurangi National Park, the Green Party said today.

Today the Government released its West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, which included:

         Identifying ‘low value’ conservation stewardship land that could be disposed of.
         Streamlining mining consent processes to reduce Department of Conservation input.
         Preparing a strategic case for a road through Kahurangi National Park.

“It beggars belief that National thinks destroying conservation land for coal and gold mining, and bulldozing a road through one of our most beautiful and remote national parks, are good ideas," said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“This comes just a week after Bill English said he would trade away part of Ruahine Forest Park for the Ruataniwha irrigation dam.

“National is showing that it is just as big a threat to our conservation estate as stoats and rats.

“As we saw with the proposal to flood Ruahine Forest Park for an irrigation reservoir, so-called ‘low-value’ conservation land is likely to be whatever land National want to develop on.

“We know that if the proposed Te Kuha coal mine goes ahead on the West Coast, 700-year-old Rimu trees will be cut down, creeks will be polluted from run-off and 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be spewed into our atmosphere.

“Laws protecting our public conservation lands are there for a reason, and that’s to stop unique habitats and wild landscapes being destroyed for short-term financial gain.

“Coal mining is a dying industry worldwide and National is dreaming if it thinks more coal mines will bring sustained prosperity for the West Coast.

“People on the West Coast need real solutions, not 19th century, short term thinking. Plans to improve Great Walks, and establish social enterprises focused on horticulture and improve digital connectivity make far more sense," said Mr Shaw.

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