Big attendance at meeting over controversial coal mine expansion

About 60 people attended the meeting in Glentunnel to discuss the expansion of the Canterbury...
About 60 people attended the meeting in Glentunnel to discuss the expansion of the Canterbury Coal Mine. ​Photo: File
A community meeting to discuss the controversial application to expand a mine in Canterbury drew in a big crowd.

Siana Fitzjohn said about 60 people were in attendance at the meeting in Glentunnel last week. 

The idea behind it was to discuss Bathurst Coal Ltd’s proposal to expand its opencast coal mine - known as Canterbury Coal Mine at Bush Gully Rd in the Malvern Hills - by 18ha.

"I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I think it went very well," she said after the meeting on Thursday. 

"There were lots of different points raised and it was great to all be in one room to discuss the different facets of the issue.

"It was a very constructive discussion. Overall the vibe that was created was quite a good one,” she said.

Malvern Hills resident Brian Thomspon who opposed the expansion in his submission also attended the meeting.

“I feel the meeting was a good open discussion and was handled well,” he said.

One of the main points of discussion at the meeting was the retrospective element of the consents.

Said Ms Fitzjohn: "There is some uncertainty around what is consented and what isn’t and I think that really highlights the problem of this process.

"We don’t actually know clearly how much [coal] has been taken out without consent.”

Bathurst Coal Ltd is seeking retrospective land use consent for earthworks that already exist as well as in the future at the site.

A district council’s report on the decision for public notification reads: “In 2017, the applicant [Bathurst Coal Ltd] was formally advised that resource consent was required for increased truck movements.

"The resulting application for increased heavy vehicle movements was lodged in 2018.

"During that process, it became evident that the increase in heavy vehicle movements was directly related to the increase in the volume of coal being extracted, and that the increased mine production was not consented.”

After much discussion, Bathurst Coal Ltd agreed to prepare an application for the expansion of the mine, it says in the report.

Ms Fitzjohn says she hopes to continue the discussion with the community going forward.

The application has proven controversial with 547 public submissions opposing the expansion.

Bathurst Coal Ltd did not respond to questions from Star News.



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