Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A good start

When it was first elected, the government promised to end coal mining on conservation land. Now they've taken a step towards that, by blocking the sale of land on the Denniston Plateau to foreign coal company Bathurst Resources:

The government has blocked the sale of 19 hectares of land on the West Coast to a coalmining company.
The Stockton mine on the West Coast.

The Overseas Investment Office had recommended that Bathurst Coal be allowed to buy three separate areas on the Denniston Plateau.

But that recommendation has been rejected by the Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, and the Associate Finance Minister, David Clark.

The land required OIO approval because it was surrounded by land held by DoC. The OIO as usual rubber-stamped it. But the Ministers said no, on the basis that there was no economic benefit to New Zealand. Officially this was because the mine on the land was closed and Bathurst had no plans to re-open it. While its not clear if they considered Bathurst's real plans - using the land to force access to the conservation estate for a giant open-cast mine instead - recent experience with this company getting resource consent and stealing conservation land, only to shut down operations immediately suggests there's no economic benefit there either. And that's without even having to get in to whether the government would keep its promise to refuse access (if they do, no economic benefit either).

Either way, the net result of this decision appears to be preventing the possibility of a giant, open-cast coal pit in an environmentally sensitive area. And that's a good start on the government keeping its promise.