Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brownlee lies about mining influence

Last June I blogged about how Minister of Energy Gerry Brownlee had bullied Minister of Conservation Tim Groser into excluding a lignite deposit from the Oteake Conservation Park. The Standard picked this up on Monday, pointing the finger at lignite and mining company L&M, and now it has hit the news, with Brownlee denying any outside influence:

However, Brownlee denied any pressure from L and M Mining.

"We had no representations from L and M Mining. I want to make that very, very clear. There was, however, a proposal to place ... 70,000ha into the Oteake Conservation Park. We made the decision to keep 200ha out on the basis that it may have significant mineral deposits, mainly lignite."

Brownlee said that decision was not made on the insistence of L and M Mining.

(Emphasis added)

Brownlee is lying. Here's a copy of L&M's submission to DoC on the park boundaries [PDF]. And here's the notes by DoC staff of their verbal submission to the hearing [PDF]. As can be seen, they were very keen on getting the park boundaries shifted so it wouldn't interfere with their future plans for mining and a coal-to-liquids plant. Crown Minerals also made a submission, which lobbied on their behalf. DoC briefings on the topic (29 August 2008 [PDF], 3 December 2008 [PDF]) were very clear that the pressure to shift the boundaries came from L&M (they were also very clear on the conservation value of the area in question). L&M very definitely did make representations - but these were unsuccessful until National came to power.