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Seabed mining can take place through this new fast-track law: here's how you can fight it

Updated: Apr 8

It was quite the surprise when Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) announced last week it was abandoning the hearings before the Environmental Protection Agency.  In good news, this company has failed, and we have, again, stopped seabed mining. 


BUT (and it’s a big one)...

Protests outside the EPA hearings in Hāwera in April. Photo: Matt Coffey

The EPA was reconsidering the would-be seabed miner’s bid to mine the South Taranaki


Bight in light of the Supreme Court’s test: that it had to prove it would cause “no material harm.” They weren’t trying very hard. The company had barely updated any of its evidence, simply re-presenting old evidence, some of which it had given before the very first application in 2013. 


It’s clear TTR thinks it can get this project across the line through the government’s proposed new fast-track process, and this is your chance to help stop that. 


This is absolutely not a given. This new proposed  legislation is appalling: it gives ministers more power than at any time in the history of this country, even during the Muldoon “think big” regime in the 1970’s. 


What is this fast-track thing? 


In short, the bill:

  • allows Ministers to have the final say on a project: it would deliver more power to three Ministers than at any time in our history. [see this great RNZ explainer)

  • sets up an “expert panel” but this is advisory only - a rubber stamping exercise. 

  • There is no provision for any public input - the bill explicitly prevents this. 

  • there are no conflict of interest provisions 

  • Ministers are making up the list of projects to go into the bill. Mining lobby group Straterra had a four-hour meeting with resource Minister Shane Jones in January. 

  • The bill only includes Te Tiriti settlements, so it wouldn't have to take account of the Supreme Court's strong rulings that Ngati Ruanui have kaitiakitanga over the proposed area.


The fast-track bill is designed to silence your voice

It’s your voice that has stopped seabed mining so far


TAKE ACTION


Make your own submission: download the KASM submission guide



KASM Submission guide - fast track bill2024
.pdf
Download PDF • 95KB

Or

If you don’t have time to make a detailed submission, add your name and submit via this Greenpeace automated link  but please don’t do both: you’d negate your own actions. 


What process would TTR have to go through if they were to apply under fast-track? 


The way the draft laws have been written, this is how it could go: 


  1. TTR’s project could get on the fast-track approvals list that the government will only publish after submissions close.  We don’t know if it’s on that list.  It would then undergo the process under the expert panel. If it’s not on the list, it would have to apply for fast-track approval.


2. The minister, likely to be one of three: Chris Bishop,  Shane Jones or Simeon Brown, would set up an expert panel to look at the application, and invite whomever it wants to give evidence.  The bill explicitly stops the expert panel from seeking input from the public - or from groups like KASM. We’re being silenced. 


3. Under the legislation: 

  • TTR could present the same, skewed evidence it presented in Hawera in March, with no opportunity for any opposing evidence to be heard. 

  • We know that, for example, that TTR’s modeling of the sediment plume from seabed mining was very, very flawed, and not fit for purpose. 

  • Would the panel seek experts to verify TTR’s evidence? It doesn’t have to.

  • The Supreme Court has ruled out this project unless TTR can prove it causes “no material harm” and TTR failed to meet that bar. The expert panel would very likely not undertake this test.

4.  Ultimately, the expert panel is only advisory: its recommendations are not binding on the Minister. So even if the expert panel were to recommend against TTR getting consent, the Minister could decide on his own to give the project the green light. 

5. The only recourse for anybody here would be to take a judicial review to get the High Court to look at an approved project. This is very expensive, and the grounds for being able to do so are extremely narrow. But we will continue fighting this flawed project. And all other seabed mining projects.



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