Raglan group ready for seabed round two

Last updated 05:00 26/07/2014

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The cold night breathes into the dimly lit Raglan Bowling Club, where locals have their hands wrapped around cups of tea.

One woman, with a Rastafarian beanie and seashells embedded in her dreadlocks, has jandals on. It's about three degrees outside.

Another woman is wrapped in a grey coat with peace signs on the sleeves. Next to her sits an artist in purple polar-fleece pants.

No, this is not a group of hippies.

This is a group which fought a two-year battle against ironsands mining giant Trans-Tasman Resources' (TTR) application to mine the South Taranaki Bight - and won.

"We won" was the constant undertone at the Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) annual general meeting this week.

Chairman Phil McCabe reminded the small but keen group of seabed guardians of KASM's "big year with an even bigger outcome".

"It was an outcome many said was impossible - but it wasn't."

And now they're off to battle again. Since TTR appealed the Environmental Protection Authority's decision, KASM will spend the next six months preparing to face the New Zealand-based mining company again in court.

"Last week we formally informed the High Court we will join with EPA and defend their decision against TTR's appeal," McCabe said.

"The EPA made the right decision and it's got to be upheld and we will do everything we can to do that."

The decision-making committee's ruling could be appealed against only on points of law but reasons behind their stance have not been disclosed.

The first appeal cost KASM about $30,000 over the two years, all of which was donated by the public through various fundraising events.

This time around KASM is looking to fundraise $40,000 to fight the appeal.

Chris Wilkes, Taranaki KASM co-ordinator, said he'd observed people were fundamentally opposed to seabed mining.

The EPA-appointed decision-making committee received more than 4800 submissions with more than 4600 opposed to the application.

"While things like 1080 split the community, seabed mining had the community behind it [in opposition]."

KASM may have the community, but McCabe said government support was evasive.

An application to Environment Minister Amy Adams for $40,000 so KASM could effectively engage in the process was denied. Around the same time, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said government would grant the Trans-Tasman Resources $15m for three years, plus the option of a two-year extension if their application was granted.

"It's clear the government is doing everything they can to enable seabed mining, but clearly they backed the wrong horse," McCabe said.

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KASM has changed the way the community responds to seabed mining, said McCabe. "I believe we have created a community of concern that stretches along the length of the west coast and into middle New Zealand."

- Waikato Times


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