Mining consent expired for Happy Valley
The Biodiversity Defence Society is filing declaration proceedings with the Environment Court today, arguing that Solid Energy no longer holds resource consents for its Cypress Mine.
The resource consents for the mine – gained in 2005 – were due to expire at the end of 2012 if mining activity had not begun.
“Happy Valley is still intact,” said BDS spokesperson Helen Tulett, “While a road has
been built in, the company has not begun blasting a mine pit, removing overburden
and extracting coal. Mining activity has not begun and that means the consents are no
longer valid. We're asking the court to confirm that.”
“This mine should never have been given consent,” she added. “And we believe that if
the company applied again today, consent would not be granted. In the last seven
years, tools for assessing biodiversity significance have advanced considerably. Threat
status for some species has changed. Biodiversity offsetting criteria have been
developed. The need to act on climate change has increased – even Solid Energy's
former chairman has admitted that there is no future in fossil fuels.”
“Happy Valley's outstanding and fragile natural environment is not being judged
against today's rules, but those from nearly a decade ago.”
Solid Energy's planned Cypress Mine in Happy Valley has been the subject of
nationwide protests, and the site of a three-year occupation camp. The area is part of
the unique and threatened Buller Coal Measure Ecosystem, which includes the
Stockton and Denniston plateaux.
The Happy Valley resource consent conditions are available at http://www.solidenergy.co.nz/coal/operations/assets/cypress-environment-court-conditions.pdf. The consent lapsing period is given at A5 as seven years.
A map of the area and recent photographs are available on request.
The Happy Valley area is situated at the head of the Waimangaroa Valley on the Stockton Plateau. Happy Valley is home to threatened native species including: great spotted kiwi, South Island kaka, kakariki, Powelliphanta patrickensis, western weka, western long tailed bat, and the South Island fern bird. Many other endemic species also live here, including: New Zealand robin, tomtit, red tussock, pygmy pine (the world’s smallest conifer), pink pine, southern rata, and numerous rare mosses and lichens.
Solid Energy are quoted as advising a contractor that it was delaying the Cypress Mine Project in October 2012. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10837929
The Biodiversity Defence Society has previously submitted against resource consents for Solid Energy's next planned mine, Mt William North, which would be next to Happy Valley. Solid Energy also has plans to continue a line of mines, after Happy Valley, down the Waimangaroa Valley towards the Denniston Plateau.