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Seabed mining opposition to gather outside EPA hearings

It’s clear would-be seabed miner Trans Tasman Resources is banking on the government’s new fast-track legislation to get its project across the line, given its lack of effort to satisfy the strong new environmental test set by the Supreme Court, say groups involved in the case.

Crowds will gather tomorrow outside the first day of EPA hearings at the TSB hub in Hāwera to voice their opposition to seabed mining as supporters from Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), Greenpeace Aotearoa and Climate Justice Taranaki (CJT) join Iwi Ngāti Ruanui.

KASM Chairperson Cindy Baxter says, “It’s clear this foreign-owned company has put more effort into lobbying than science: it has barely lifted a finger to convince the EPA it could meet the Supreme Court’s test of causing ‘no material harm’ in digging up the seabed of the South Taranaki Bight, a prospect vociferously opposed by the nation.”

“The last National government set up this EPA and the legislation for this environmental test, but now it appears prepared to walk away from it and turn the Taranaki Bight into an industrial zone. We will continue to challenge this project every step of the way,” she said.

Since its 2017 consent to dig up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year for 35 years, dumping 45 million tonnes back onto the seafloor, TTR has had that consent quashed by three courts, with the Supreme Court sending it back to the EPA for the company to prove it will cause no material harm.

KASM and Greenpeace’s submissions, to be heard on Thursday, will point out the huge gaps in the company’s application, such as the fact it hasn’t done a single survey of marine mammals, seabirds, nor anything else that lives in the waters of the South Taranaki Bight, in order to ascertain how they might be affected by seabed mining.

Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner Juressa Lee says, “The fact that TTR has made very little effort to prove that seabed mining won’t harm marine life in the Bight tells us they could be banking on the Fast Track Bill to bypass proper process. It’s hugely concerning that such big decisions with irreversible consequences on the environment could be made without any consideration for Tangata Whenua, matauranga Māori, and the best available science.”

Climate Justice Taranaki will also give a submission during the EPA hearings (likely in April).

Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Dr Lyndon DeVantier says, “South Taranaki Bight is a global hotspot for marine mammals, hosting resident populations of threatened species that rely on the Bight’s natural abundance. The region’s oceanography is changing rapidly, its waters are heating, with marine heatwaves and other ‘cumulative effects’ increasingly impacting food webs. As a nation we have an obligation to protect these Taonga species and to promote their recovery, not place them under even more harm.”

TTR has recently been bought by an Australian Company, Manuka Resources, and is now using the South Taranaki Bight resource to attract shareholders, telling them it intends to develop a 700-square km area of the Bight. This particular 66 sq.km application is just the beginning. 

 

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