Development stifled by minorities: Bathursthead

Environmental groups have been accused of stifling development by the chairman of West Coast coal mine developer Bathurst Resources - which is locked in an Environment Court challenge at present.

At Bathurst's annual meeting in Sydney yesterday, chairman Craig Munro thanked shareholders for their "ongoing patience" and confidence in the company, which had been through a challenging year with regard to various appeal processes, but said he remained "optimistic" Bathurst would be in production by mid-2013.

"This is obviously very time-consuming, costly and non-productive from both the company's and the majority of New Zealanders' point of view, but, under current legislation, necessary," he said.

At the forefront of appeals are Royal Forest and Bird and the West Coast Environment Network, which are challenging more than 20 consents granted to Bathurst by West Coast councils more than a year ago.

Mr Munro said, "We appreciate your continued [shareholder] support and patience in a year that has seen us having to focus on what seems like the never-ending appeals process that allows minority groups to stifle development in New Zealand."

The first appeal was mediated and withdrawn, then Bathurst won a second appeal in the Environment Court, which ruled that climate change effects were irrelevant in a challenge against resource consents. This decision was subsequently affirmed by the High Court but is now subject to an appeal to the Court of Appeal. The third appeal is at present being heard by the Environment Court over six weeks and a decision is expected early next year.


West Coast Coal Mine

I would like to suggest that if you go to this site you could get a clear indication of Bathursts plans for their West Coast Coal Mine.Page five is of particular interest!


Bathurst's view of the appeals is disingenuous

Bathurst's view that " the never-ending appeals process that allows minority groups to stifle development in New Zealand" is factually incorrect.

As I have commented here before, any RMA lawyer or consultant would have advised Bathurst to expect an appeal to the Environment Court - after all the resource consents are for an open cast mine on West Coast conservation land that is habitat for endemic Powelliphanta snails (as well as other species). It's a replay of Forest and Bird vs Solid Energy for the Cypress Mine on Mt Augusta. You know the mine that has caused the only known population of Powelliphanta augusta snails to be in DOC's Hokitika cool store.

The other strand of appeals is about the RMA's jurisdiction over carbon dioxide emissions from the coal. And Bathurst started it by trying to get the Environment Court to declare the carbon dioxide emissions from the coal would be ignored in the consent appeals. Why shouldn't F&B appeal that legal point all the way to the Supreme Court?

According to RNZ, Judge Newhook is  not impressed with Bathurst's implicit criticisms of the Environment Court.

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