Lobby group appeals mining consents
Lobby group the West Coast Environment Network is appealing a High Court decision which ruled climate change irrelevant when making decisions on coal mining consents.
Bathurst Resources said it had been notified that the Network group had lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal against the High Court's decision to uphold the climate change declaration made by the Environment Court in April.
The Network group is fighting against proposed coal mines on the Stockton-Denniston region of the West Coast and says that climate change should be weighed up along with other factors in consent decisions.
"Even the companies admit that this coal will contribute to climate change," Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves said. "So why can't we call evidence on it?"
Bathurst Resources and state-owned miner Solid Energy won declarations from the Environment and High Courts that the climate change argument is excluded from coal mining - and by implication other - Resource Management Act considerations.
But environmental legislation should not ignore the serious threat of climate change and its implications, Hargreaves said.
"Resource consent hearings already take other complex matters into account; climate impacts need to be weighed up too. If they're not then we risk the CO2 from this coal - which is unlikely to come under any carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or Kyoto target - never being considered at all."
The West Coast was quite vulnerable to climate change, both in terms threats to biodiversity and the flood risks from higher seas and heavier rainfall, she added.
Bathurst, in a statement, said that Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook made a declaration in April sought by Bathurst's wholly owned subsidiary, Buller Coal Ltd, that climate change was not a relevant factor to be considered by local councils in determining whether or not to grant resource consents under the Resource Management Act.
In August, the High Court upheld that original decision made by Judge Newhook.
''Bathurst remains confident that the declaration received in the Environment Court, and affirmed by the High Court, will again be upheld by the Court of Appeal,'' Bathurst said.
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