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27 November 2009

Environmental Defence Society critical of Gerry Brownlee’s statements about mining on the Coromandel

The Environmental Defence Society has criticised Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee for indicating his support today for mining on public conservation lands on the Coromandel Peninsula.

“The Coromandel Peninsula, north of the Kopu-Hikuai Road, is currently off-limits to mining by virtue of the 4th Schedule of the Crown Minerals Act. If the Minister thinks that he can remove that protection without robust objections from the environmental movement, then he is mistaken,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“Mr Brownlee appears to be imposing his own preferences over what is supposed to be a balanced exercise of evaluating mining potential against natural values. The government has said that it will produce a draft proposal for public consultation and input. We are expecting that in the New Year,”

“The Minister is being extremely premature in stating his personal preferences early on in the process. This undermines public confidence that the process is fair, balanced and meaningful and creates the impression that decisions have already been made.

“We have also been concerned that the Minister appears to have been listening to mining interests but has refused to even meet with EDS to discuss our concerns.

“There may well be areas of conservation land where mining could be undertaken. But the Coromandel has been declared off-limits for very good reasons and after decades of argument.

“When Ministers exercise statutory powers they have to act within the law. Minister Brownlee has so far exhibited bias and predetermination in the way he has handled this matter,” Mr Taylor concluded.