Waikato Regional Council approves new Fonterra coal mine at Mangatawhiri

17 Oct
From Jeanette Fitzsimons for Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA):
The hearings panel has just issued its consent for Fonterra’s proposed coal mine at Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland. http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Services/Regional-services/Consents/Resource-consents/Significant-applications-hearings-and-decisions/Mangatangi-Mine/
It hinged on finding that the adverse effects the residents were concerned about – heath and quality of life impacts from dust, noise, water abstraction and discharge, destruction of landscape values and traffic,  would be minor. The residents, of course, disagree but Fonterra could afford lots of expensive expert witnesses to say everything could be mitigated satisfactorily, and these were given more weight than the residents’ concerns. That’s how the RMA works.
The residents living closest to the pit generally submitted in favour of the mine after reaching an “arrangement” with Fonterra. This meant the effects on them did not have to be considered, and made it possible to conclude that the effects would be minor. Too bad if those properties change hands during the life of the mine.
The panel acknowledged CANA’s expert submission from John Gifford showing that wood waste was available that could substitute for coal in their milk drying plants, making the mine unnecessary. However they decided they didn’t need to consider this further because the mine would do so little harm they didn’t need to think about alternatives.
The elephant attended throughout the first week, drawing attention to the legal prohibition on arguing what really matters – the contribution of the mine to climate change.
While we didn’t stop the consent, CANA believes the effort was well worth while as thanks to the help of John Gifford we now have a well researched piece of work that has not been challenged showing the feasibility of wood waste as an alternative to coal. Fonterra’s evidence showed that they have already done some work on alternative fuels and we are confident that faced with this evidence, they will eventually have to continue down this path.
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