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Submission guide now out

9 Mar

Please click on this link to see our guidelines for making a submission to Waikato Regional Council and Waikato District Council on Glencoal’s proposed mine at Mangatawhiri

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Submission guide for Glencoal’s Mangatangi Mine, due 28 March

28 Feb

Guidelines for making a submission to Waikato Regional Council and Waikato District Council on Glencoal’s proposed mine at Mangatawhiri

Glencoal, owned by Fonterra, has applied for resource consents under the RMA to Waikato Regional and Waikato District Councils, for consents to construct and operate an open cast mine at Mangatawhiri (though they call it Mangatangi Mine). They wish to extract 120,000 tonnes of coal a year for 7 years, truck it to their existing Kopako mine south of SH2 for processing, then truck it to Waitoa, Te Awamutu and Hautapu dairy factories to create heat for processing milk. These factories make milk powder, cheeses, and infant formula, among other products.

The activities for which they need consents from the Regional Council include earthworks; removal of vegetation; geotechnical bores and monitoring; pumping water out of the mine; discharging treated mine water and process water and contaminated stormwater into a tributary of the Kopuera Stream; depositing overburden on adjacent land; discharging dust and other emissions to air; damming and diverting streams and groundwater.

From the District Council they need consents for land use, noise, land disturbance, construction of access roads; use of hazardous substances.

We do not oppose applications unless we can see an alternative. In this case, we have checked that there is enough waste wood in the area which could be dried and used as a fuel source for the factories. This would create more jobs than mining and would not release greenhouse gases which change the climate. Wood chips cannot be dumped straight into a coal boiler but dry chips could be mixed with coal up to about 10% right away and major boiler modifications and new boilers should be designed to use wood. We want to see Fonterra commit to a transition to renewable energy .

You have the right to make a written submission and to be heard by the decision-making panel.

Why 2 councils?

Under the RMA District Councils control land use planning, regional councils control water and air. Glencoal needs permission from both. You have a right to make submissions to both. So submissions need to go to both and a copy must be sent to Glencoal, address at end of submission form.

Usually the councils hold a combined hearing so you can present your views to both at once.

Activities can be “controlled” ie the council cannot refuse, but can set conditions – or “discretionary” which means councils can turn it down. Most of these consents are discretionary. This is a major industrial activity in a rural area.

Submissions are due 28 March

You can make your submission online, or on paper.

To make a submission to Waikato District Council go to http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Have-your-say/Public-consultation/Glencoal-Energy-Limited.aspx

And follow the various links.

To make a submission to Waikato Regional Council go to http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Community/Whats-happening/Have-your-say/2349723/

To read the application from Glencoal go to http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Services/Regional-services/Consents/Resource-consents/Significant-applications-hearings-and-decisions/Mangatangi-Mine/

Here you can download two volumes of the application and 10 appendices. They are huge, but you can scan through the contents list and see which parts you are interested in and just skim those. You may be interested in the maps of the proposed mine site and exactly what they proposed to do where.

Applications on paper can be viewed at the Tuakau office of the Waikato District Council, and forms for manual completion can be obtained there.

Each council has a two page submission form which you need to fill in. You can add as many sheets of explanation and evidence as you like. You can fill in both submission forms and copy your additional pages to both councils.

The form asks you if you want to be heard. That means fronting up a council hearing and speaking to your submission. That is not scary – it is a relatively informal process, you don’t need a lawyer, you can’t be cross-examined. The hearing will be held locally somewhere. It is advisable always to ask to be heard. If you front up and speak to them it does carry more weight. You can always withdraw if the date is impossible for you.

The form also asks if you are willing to be grouped with other submitters raising similar issues. If you plan who is going to speak on which issues, and you all answer questions together at the end, this can be a good way of doing it and you don’t feel so alone. When you turn up to speak you can add information  not in your submission but shouldn’t raise whole new issues. Eg your written submission  can say “concerned about effect of dewatering mine on groundwater” then you can expand on that at hearing. It gives you more time to prepare.

So what might you say?

That is up to you, but speaking about how the mine will impact on you and your family and community is very important. Some of the effects that might concern you are:

  • Dewatering of mine – pumping into stream – will affect groundwater for 2km to NE, 800m to S, it will drop by ~ 1m. They say impact will be “less than minor” because there is only 1 well in that area – but what about effects on farming?
  • Coal is 30-90m below surface; land surface 20-60m Below Sea Level – so much of the pit will be Below Sea Level, requiring constant pumping.
  • Discharge of treated mine water, storm water, process water to tributary of Kopuera Stream. Already has high content of minerals and sediment. Do you use the stream? Does it have value for you?
  • Discharge of dust and other gases and particulates to air – will that affect your health or your water supply or your farm?
  • Noise levels are planned to be considerably higher than now
  • Extra traffic (big trucks) on local roads
  • Visual effects – do you look out over this area?
  • 13 ha lake when mine is completed – regarded as a positive amenity but will water be black and unsuitable for contact recreation? What is the water like at the closed Kopako mine?

If you do not want the mine under any circumstances, say that you oppose all consents and tick the “oppose” box.

The applicant is required under the RMA to consider alternatives. It looks at alternative ways of mining coal but hardly addresses alternative fuels, just saying Fonterra considered “biomass” (probably wood) and coal is the most “economically viable”. What calculations did they do; what assumptions did they use; can you see that work? The commissioners on the panel could ask them to present that.

Climate change

The current case law is that you cannot argue the contribution the coal will make to climate change when opposing a consent, and the panel must not consider this. However that ruling of the High Court is being challenged in the Supreme Court on 12/13 March and it is possible there could be a decision by the time a hearing is held on this application. If you say in your submission that you believe it is essential to start phasing out coal because it is the major contributor to climate change, and the way is then cleared legally for this argument to be made, then you can elaborate on it in your oral presentation. If not, they will just rule it out but no harm done.

Big things to remember

Fill out the right forms for both Waikato District and Waikato Region.

Add pages where you speak about the likely effects of the mine on you, as well as general concerns.

Give any evidence you can about this.

Send a copy to Glencoal.

Ask to be heard.

Submissions are due 28 March

Good luck!