Forest and Bird have voiced their displeasure with the decision to move forward on a 150-hectare coal mine project and are appealing the decision to grant resource consent.
The project resource consent was approved last month by the West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council.
CEO of Forest and Bird, Kevin Hague says that if the project goes ahead it would see the removal of part of an intact forested mountain that can be seen from Westport.
Hague says, “We’re taking this to the Environment Court because this place is too special to dig up for a coal mine,”
He also says, “Everybody agrees that this area has high ecological values. The vegetation that would be dug up for the mine is rare and pristine. “
The area is known for its spotted kiwi, South Island fernbird, West Coast green gecko and the rare forest ringlet butterfly.
“We are appealing to prevent an open-cast coal mine from removing these very special plants and animals, and destroying an important landscape,” says Hague.
He also says, “This mining industry claims the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs, but in fact, the benefits are overstated and the costs much higher than suggested.”
Forest and Bird took the case to the High Court in October this year and claimed the Crown Minerals Act does not override the Council's obligations under the Reserve Act to maintain the natural features of the reserve.
They are still awaiting a decision in the case.