Sand mining 20-year plan risks
The company asking to mine 50 million tonnes of sand annually off the west coast for 20 years is being accused of playing a Jedi mind trick.
Trans-Tasman Resources is being accused of waving its hand, like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, to trick objectors to the South Taranaki Bight application to the Environmental Protection Authority into thinking there are not "significant shortcomings" with the plan.
Malibu Hamilton, representing Raglan surfing organisation Te Ngaru Roa a Maui, told the authority hearing that the company's experts had failed to provide evidence that adverse impacts were avoided, remedied or mitigated.
"TTR has failed to be a good partner to address Maori issues and were offhanded when dealing with the EPA. TTR has moved its hand like a Jedi warrior to say there is nothing wrong here and move on as if the effects are no more than minor. What's worse is that TTR will continue to argue that it can be fixed by way of consent conditions and more baseline research and monitoring. All that should have been done before rushing to lodge the application on a set date."
Hamilton doubted the company would abide by its consent if it were granted.
"Most of the consents that are given are not monitored, most of the companies breach them and wait for an abatement notice."
Hamilton is one of 80 Waikato-based submitters appearing before the hearing at Waikato Stadium this week to object to the plan to use a subsea sediment extraction crawler over 66 square kilometres. Customary fisheries forum Nga Hapu o Te Uru co-chair Angeline Greensill backed Hamilton's comments.
"This is an application that has been done in haste.
"I don't think there's been enough research done into how these mining activities are going to affect them," she said of sea life.
"I struggled to try and understand this application because there was so much information that wasn't there. There was no evidence.
"They are telling us that there's going to be no impacts. Every living thing in the sand will be killed in the process. What we create from a living space is a dead space."
The forum, made up of hapu and marae representatives from Port Waikato to Mokau, asked for the application to be declined because it was contrary to its vision of preserving, sustaining and enhancing fisheries.
"Surface noise and light for operations that run day and night will negatively affect seabirds. Subsurface noise will affect marine mammals and fisheries.
"Disturbance of the sea floor may mobilise previously settled pollutants, such as heavy metals, that can bioaccumulate in fish species. The noise, light and seafloor disturbance has a high potential to place the commercial, recreational and customary fisheries at risk."
Greensill said profits would be exported overseas, against a risk of ecological collapse.
"If the applicant is allowed to mine sand for 20 years this will prevent any sand from moving north and will contribute to further erosion to the foreshore and seabed as natural accretion won't occur."
Authority committee member Gillian Wratt questioned the sand flow, saying she understood it flowed south and not north.
Greensill cited a scientific report that said it flowed north.
"You have to live in the future with what you believe your grandchildren will be happy with."