EPA slated over sandmining case

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2014

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A failed bid to mine iron ore off the coast of Patea has exposed inadequate handling of marine consent applications, the Taranaki Regional Council says.

The council's director of resource consent, Fred McLay, said the Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA) treatment of its first application under the new Exclusive Economic Zone Act needed work.

"There are some learnings there and they really boil down to having an adequate application in the first place."

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) filed an appeal in the High Court after a consent application to take 50 million tonnes of sediment per year, across 65.76 square kilometres, from the South Taranaki Bight, was declined by the EPA late last month.

McLay said the EPA should have completed its independent review of the application prior to asking the public to make submissions on it.

Its failure to do this resulted in a lot of wasted time and effort for submitters, who weren't clear on the potential effects of the proposal on the coastal environment, ocean and existing interests, he said.

"We had to focus on a whole lot of issues when those could have been addressed earlier."

McLay said the EPA should have addressed the lack of information provided by TTR on the proposal's effect on primary productivity.

He said the public should also have been given more than 20 working days to make submissions, because the application was complex and the first to be considered under the new act.

The EPA turned down the marine consent because of lack of information of potential adverse environment effects.

TTR is appealing this based on areas of the EPA's decision process, including failure to extend time frames and consider the best-available information to ensure justice was met.

McLay declined to comment on whether the EPA's handling of the application would affect the outcome of the appeal, because the matter was before the courts.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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