In August 2018, the High Court quashed the marine consent granted to Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTRL) by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for TTRL to undertake seabed mining in the South Taranaki Bight. In doing so, the High Court upheld appeals by the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board and others against the marine consent.
However, TTRL has now filed an application for leave to appeal the High Court’s decision to the Court of Appeal, seeking to overturn the High Court’s decision and reinstate its mining consent.
The Conservation Board has resolved to defend the High Court’s decision, as well as to seek leave to cross-appeal in order to have the High Court’s decision confirmed on other grounds.
Board Chairperson, Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu said, ‘that initially the Board were very pleased with the High Court’s decision which quashed the original seabed mining consent that had been granted by the Environmental Protection Authority’. ‘However, the subsequent appeal by TTRL was not unexpected’. He said, ‘it’s disappointing that we have to continue to fight to protect our environment’.
The Board is an independent statutory body constituted under the Conservation Act. Its functions include conservation management and the Board was concerned to ensure that the EPA’s decision was made in accordance with the statutory tests established under the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) legislation. The Board had submitted against the application, raising concerns about the risk to the environment (including on marine mammals) as well as uncertainty in the information put forward to support the application.
By way of background, TTRL lodged this (second) application for marine consents with the EPA in August 2016. The EPA’s decision to grant TTRL’s second application was made in August 2017 and required a casting vote from the chairperson of the EPA’s four-member Decision Making Committee.
Following that decision, the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, along with other appellants including Ngati Ruanui, Te Kahui O Rauru, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), Greenpeace, Forest & Bird and Fisheries Interest Groups, lodged appeals opposing the granting of consent. These appeals were heard in the High Court, over four days earlier in the year (16 – 19 April 2018). In August 2018, the High Court found in favour of the Conservation Board and other appellants by quashing the consent that had been granted.
These recent proceedings also followed an earlier application by Trans-Tasman Resources for the same activity, lodged in November 2013 and declined by the EPA in June 2014. The Board had also opposed that earlier application.
Adrienne Corfe, Board Support Officer
Mobile: +64 27 357 0822