6 Jun 2013

Appeal against Denniston mining rejected

10:17 pm on 6 June 2013

The first part of an appeal by a conservation group to stop mining on the Denniston Plateau on the South Island's West Coast has been dismissed.

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society argued in the High Court that a decision to allow mining should be looked at along with the Sullivan Mine site.

Australian company Bathurst Resources has been given resource consent for an open cast mine on the Denniston Plateau - something which Forest and Bird is appealing against.

Thursday's judgement relates to part of an appeal the society put through the High Court on points of law, saying that the Sullivan Mine, also on the plateau, should have been considered.

Solid Energy has a mining permit for the Sullivan Mine, but requires resource consent before it can proceed.

In its appeal, Forest and Bird argued that the cumulative environmental effects of mining at both sites should have been considered by the Environment Court, instead of just the Denniston escarpment in isolation.

However, Justice Fogarty decided there was no error of law in the interim Environment Court decision relating to the Sullivan Mine.

Outside court, Forest and Bird's regional field officer Debs Martin said it is disappointed by the judgement, but it has some positives.

"In reading it too we see that they have said that it is an otherwise very powerful proposition, in that if we don't consider the cumulative effects of the Sullivan Mine now, they never will be. So that was always the substance of what we were trying to argue in the court."

But Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the appeal process isn't really helping anyone.

"I hope Forest and Bird will reflect on the negative decision of the court in the sense that there is a huge cost - not just for them and their members - but for a West Coast community in these ongoing appeals and hold-ups on the Denniston mine issue."

The decision on the second part of Forest and Bird's appeal relating to biodiversity is due in the next few days.