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September 15, 2009

Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki (Watchdog) is astounded by the proposal by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee to open Department of Conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula to mining.

“Last week, Mr. Brownlee announced a review of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act to identify land that could be removed from protected status and made available for mining”, said Watchdog spokesperson Denis Tegg.

Schedule 4 currently protects from mining all conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula north of the Kopu Hikuai Road, and most of the offshore islands.

“Those areas are protected because Watchdog spearheaded a massive public campaign in the late 1990s, which persuaded the Jim Bolger National Government that preserving Coromandel’s precious conservation land was where the Peninsula’s economic prosperity lay, rather than with mining.

We galvanised support for the protection of the Peninsula from mining, not only from locals, but also from the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who holiday here.

Having to re-educate another National Government that the public doesn’t want mining on DoC land is such a waste of time and energy. But make no mistake there will be even more support for a ban on mining this time round”, said Mr Tegg. “I think the Government is going to get a back-lash, including from its own supporters, and will seriously regret coming up with this dumb proposal.”

The Coromandel has prospered with tourism and low key non-industrial development since the mining ban was imposed. New Zealand has moved on from the old resource-exploitation “think big”  policies of the 1980s.  It’s tragic that the Government wants to return to those failed policies. And it has angered many people that there was no mention of the Government’s intentions in its election manifesto.

So once again that the public will have to make their voices heard, and educate the Government that the Coromandel’s future lies with preserving its natural heritage,” concluded Mr. Tegg.