Forest & Bird congratulates PM on Denniston decision

Forest & Bird media release

More than 200 people last night protested outside Bathurst Resources’ Wellington office when the Prime Minister officiated at the opening.

Forest & Bird today congratulated the Prime Minister for publicly confirming that New Zealanders will get a say in the access approval by the Department of Conservation for Bathurst Resources to build an open-cast coal mine on the Denniston Plateau.

“This morning we are thrilled to see that the Prime Minister has listened to the concerns of the public and has confirmed that access to the Denniston Plateau for open-cast coal mining will be publicly notified,” said Conservation Advocate Nicola Toki.

“It’s unfortunate that the Prime Minister is in direct conflict with the Conservation Minister’s decision in November 2011 to deny public input into this process.”

In a story this morning, the Prime Minister said: “This is going to be a notified access agreement for the Denniston Plateau so there is no hiding away from that.”

This statement is in direct conflict with the Minister of Conservation’s letter to Forest & Bird on 27 November 2011 which said the access agreement by the Department of Conservation would not be publicly notified.

In July 2010, after the government executed a remarkable backdown on mining in Schedule 4 conservation areas, the Minister of Energy and Resources and the Minister of Conservation said “significant applications to mine on public land should be publicly notified”. Forest & Bird is pleased that the Prime Minister has today committed to honour that promise.

However, there are still concerns around the Prime Minister’s public endorsement of Bathurst Resources, an overseas company that intends to create the largest open-cast coal mine on public conservation land. Last night the Prime Minister officiated at the opening of Bathurst’s Wellington office. More than 200 people protested outside the offices to support protection of the Denniston Plateau.

“The Prime Minister has made it very clear that he supports the activities of Bathurst Resources on New Zealand’s public conservation land, and we are concerned that his actions are intended to influence the Department of Conservation into agreeing to access,” said Nicola Toki.

Contact: Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Toki, 021 558 607