If the government had carried on with plans to investigate mining potential on schedule 4 conservation land it would have been accused of not listening to the people.
Now that it has taken heed of the vociferous opposition to the plan and not only said there will be no mining on this land but added more to it, it’s been accused of doing a u-turn.
It’s one of those damned if they did, damned if they didn’t situations but Trans Tasman has found some positives in it for the government:
. . . Brownlee says “NZers have given the mineral sector a clear mandate to go and explore that land, and where appropriate…utilise its mineral resources for everyone’s benefit.”
Therefore, on his analysis the biggest backdown since National came to office was “a valuable exercise” and he could be right. It hasn’t lost anything which really matters, it listened and it learned, and its opponents have been cut off at the knees. And the industry, far from being disappointed, says it’s getting what it has wanted for a decade-aero magnetic surveys of regions expected to yield deposits worth billions.
One step back from schedule 4 land has led to a couple of steps forward in other areas. Northland MP John Carter and West Coast Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole are showing a lot of enthusiasm for the possiblity of mining in their electorates.
And Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said city people shouldn’t use his region to ease their environmental consciences:
. . . Aucklanders need to deal with what he calls “the mountain of carbon emissions” their highways are spewing out before blocking a small amount of mining on the West Coast.
He says it is not right that urban people should stop the region’s development.
Mr Kokshoorn says the area proposed for exploration was only “a few thousand hectares” out of the two million hectares of conservation land on the West Coast.
He said there is a currently a balance between eco-tourism and mining on the West Coast and further mining would not compromise the environment.
He said the Government’s decision not to mine on schedule four conservation land was hugely disappointing.
People who marvel at natural beauty as they drive through it at 100 kph or take a closer look on an occasional holiday have a right to their views. But while they stand up for the environment they forget the sustainability stool has two other legs – the economic and social ones.
Local people need work which mining could provide and the infrastructure and services which would come with it.
They have a far greater interest than visitors in ensuring mining doesn’t come at the cost of the environment because it will be done in their backyard, and no-one’s suggesting mining at any cost.
The Resource Management process will be able to ensure mining is done with minimal disruption and damage and the requirement to leave the land in the same or better state when the work is finished.