Miner's consents 'still OK'

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 15/06/2013

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The West Coast Regional Council does not believe Solid Energy's resource consent for an extension to Stockton mine has lapsed.

Environmental group The Biodiversity Defence Society this week filed a request for the Environment Court to declare the state-owned coalminer's consent to develop the Cypress block near Stockton invalid because of inactivity.

The state-owned coalminer won the consent in 2005, after a long battle, the approval good for seven years as long as work was started on the mine in that time.

Society spokeswoman Helen Tulett claimed work had not begun on the consents for mining and water use, so those consents were no longer valid.

However, West Coast Regional Council compliance and consents manager Jackie Adams said two staff visited the site last month and the company was well under way with the myriad duties required before the start of mining the Cypress extension.

"Although they haven't started taking the coal out of the ground yet, they've done a lot of work getting the consent set up."

That included scouring the mine footprint for endangered fauna and vegetation that will be housed in nurseries and sanctuaries until post-mining rehabilitation, he said. The detailed conditions meant 40 people had to walk through each hectare of the area.

At last month's meeting, the company had produced its plan how it had developed the consent over the past year, Adams said.

When asked if the Cypress consent had lapsed, he said: "No, I don't believe it has."

Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville was completely confident the consent was safe.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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