9 Nov 2017

Govt to block new mining on conservation land

11:36 am on 9 November 2017

The government has announced it will block all new mining on conservation land.

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Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said public conservation lands were there for nature to thrive and for New Zealanders and visitors to enjoy.

"Mining, especially open-cast mining runs counter to that.

"It destroys indigenous vegetation and habitats, permanently changes natural landscapes and can create sizeable waste rock dumps with a risk of acid mine drainage polluting waterways.

"New Zealanders expect to see our conservation lands and their wild landscapes and indigenous plants and wildlife protected from being dug up by bulldozers and diggers."

The decision was revealed in a one-line comment in the Speech from the Throne, at yesterday's State Opening of Parliament, which set out the government's intentions.

Ms Sage said today places like the West Coast and Coromandel had diversified their economies on the back of their stunning natural beauty and landscapes, and the warmth of local communities.

Her government was committed to helping workers in these regions make a just transition from mining.

"Tourism on the West Coast is now responsible for more jobs than the mining sector. It's crucial that we protect the very thing that draws visitors - unequalled beech and rimu forests, river valleys and a network of huts and tracks."

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the decision was a "breath of fresh air".

"New Zealand needs to understand that we need a 21st Century economy in which prosperity and good jobs go hand in hand with protecting the environment."

The new government has also pledged to investigate alternatives to the use of 1080 to kill pests like possums and rats. There would be more support for National Science Challenges including piloting alternatives to 1080.

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