Federated Mountain Clubs President Peter Wilson is calling on Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, and Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods, to turn down the bid by a company backed by Stevenson Mining and the Wi Pere Trust to turn 12 hectares of public conservation land on the hills behind Westport into an opencast coalmine
The land, managed by the Department of Conservation, is in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area. The West Coast Regional Council and the Buller District Council granted resource consent to the mine, which includes excavation of another 100 hectares of land in the neighbouring Westport Water Conservation Reserve.
Allowing this mine on public conservation land – a stewardship area yet to be properly assessed and classified for its ecological, recreational and historic values – is completely inappropriate.Initial assessments suggests that this place has ecological values well worthy of permanent protection.
New Zealand has local, national, and international commitments to biodiversity. We should be taking better care of our biodiversity, appreciating the richness and resilience it provides, not adding to its ongoing loss
Aside from the significant threat to biodiversity – the web of life in this particular place – the mine will have devastating visual impact when seen from Westport and the surrounding mountains, including the spectacular Buckland Peaks on the southern side of the Buller gorge.
This mine, if given the green light, will be a symbolic visual sore shaping the image and reputation of Westport among other New Zealanders and international tourists for generations.
The proposal, while needlessly brutal to the Westport-Buller Gorge environment, also flies in the face of the biggest challenge of our time – climate change. New Zealand has committed to act. Regardless of where coal is burned if it’s burned it increases global climate disruption.
The Buller region, the Coast, and all Kiwis, who almost by definition love the outdoors, can do better than open-cast coal mining, which is permanently destructive, polluting and simply outdated.
For further comment please contact Peter Wilson: 0211513486