Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Return of the Orcs

Since being elected in 2008, National has been eager to dig up our conservation estate for private (and foreign) profit. In 2010 they wanted to allow mining in national parks. When the public made it clear we wouldn't tolerate that, they resorted to conducting mineral surveys of World Heritage Areas and issuing exploration permits for schedule 4 protected land. And now they're back again, with plans to turn some of the most valuable parts of the conservation estate into open-cast coal mines:

A secret coal mining plan will carve up "unique and outstanding landscapes", Forest & Bird says.

The affected areas included crucially important biodiversity hotspots in the South Island's Buller Plateau, near Westport, the organisation said on Monday.

The plans were developed for multiple ministers to identify areas for coal mining and areas for protection, Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said.

"The problem is, they're planning to take the highest value conservation land for coal mining."

An area known as Whareatea West, on the Denniston Plateau, was proposed for open cast coal mining, he said.

"This is public conservation land, and the most ecologically valuable area on the plateau – without Whareatea West the integrity of the whole plateau is lost."

The "spectacular" Deep Creek area was proposed for protection from open cast mining, but not necessarily from underground mining.

The plans were developed for the Ministers of Conservation, Energy and Resources, and Economic Development, he said.

As with their previous plans, this is unacceptable. Firstly, because the conservation estate is for conservation, not mining. The government needs to protect it, not destroy it. And secondly, because climate change means we can not and should not dig up more coal (well, not unless we want to drown Petone and South Dunedin).

Once again we've been reminded that the National Party are Orcs, whose only interest in the environment is in destroying it. The good news is that we can fix that: there's an election in less than six months. If we want to change this policy, then the best way of doing it is to change the government...