A government decision to call for prospecting mining permits for public lands in Nelson Marlborough is not only short-sighted and disrespectful to the environment but treachery says the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ).
CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft agreed with Forest and Bird’s calling of the government decision as “crazy” .
“This flies in the face of government assurances, indeed by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern in November, that there would be no new mining exploration on the public’s conservation estate. It’s a U turn that’s totally unacceptable,” he said.
NZ Petroleum and Minerals part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment recently reopened 7828 square kms across the top of the South Island for prospecting permits. Included will be Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Parks and the Howard conservation area.
Andi Cockroft praised Forest and Bird for their opposition.
“This is public land. It doesn’t belong to the BIME ministry bureaucrats in NZ Petroleum. I repeat it is public land and the ministry boffins are public servants.”
Andi Cockroft said he would have expected a more forthright note of concern from the Minister of Conservation. While a mineral permit might be approved, and a resource consent to mine declined, there was a danger in giving overseas mining corporations a “sniff of an opportunity.”
“The mining corporations won’t go prospecting unless they know there’s a good chance of getting a mining right. It’s dangerous,” he said.
Andi Cockroft was hopeful that the prime minister would reiterate her November promise.
“The Ministry bureaucrats need to be pulled into line,” he said.
Andi Cockroft also drew attention to the previous National-led government’s decision to open up public lands and offshore marine areas to mineral exploration. He said the then energy minister Simon Bridges had signed off public areas for exploration and when asked about the Victoria Forest Park in the Lewis Pass area, confessed he did not know where it was.
“Such ignorance just isn’t good enough,” said Andi Cockroft. “ Public property i.e. public lands is involved.”