Consents for mine OK - court

Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013

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Coalmining opponents have lost their case for a second time against Solid Energy's Cypress Mine in the West Coast's Happy Valley.

The High Court has dismissed the appeal of the Biodiversity Defence Society against a decision of the Environment Court which held that Solid Energy's consents for the mine had not lapsed.

Solid Energy had a suite of consents to operate the mine. Seven were still current and 15 had to be actioned by August 24 last year. No coal had been mined at that stage, the High Court said.

The society sought a declaration that 15 consents had lapsed under section 125 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

The High Court yesterday dismissed the appeal, adopting the Environment Court's alternative reason, being satisfied that the Resource Management Act consents, considered as a suite of consents, had been actioned.

The consents were an integrated package, the court said.

Works carried out to date by Solid Energy had focused on managing the effects of the mine.

The High Court said coalmining required a suite of consents. Once granted, a lot of planning was needed to integrate the mine into the overall Stockton Plateau coalmining operation.

Significant progress had been made on the planning and large sums had been spent. Also, numerous physical works had been done, such as building of access roads.

The court said there was no material distinction between planning work, such as preparation of management plans, and physical works at the heart of consents.

Therefore, the Environment Court was right in treating the context as a suite of interlinked consents and in finding that effect had been given to the suite of consents for the mine. "The fact that there are two consents out of 22 in respect of which nothing has yet been done, because they are so far downstream in the operation is again not material, on this analysis."

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- BusinessDay

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