by Catherine Delahunty
Many of the Frogblog readers would have supported the fantastic campaign in 2010 to love and protect the Schedule 4 areas of our beautiful country from mining. You will not be impressed by the news that the Government which promised to protect Schedule 4 is now eroding the promise. You will not be impressed by the Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges statement yesterday in the House that drilling rigs would be able to roll into Schedule 4 under the new Crown Minerals Act. Even before this bad news Schedule 4 has been undermined by a number of permits to prospect and explore. One of these permits, over the seabed just offshore of Thames township is currently useless because its work programme includes drilling. The Green Party got a legal opinion on the definition of “minimum impact activities” allowable in Schedule 4 which says you cannot drill, but nekminnit the Government is changing the law.
In McGregor Bay in Coromandel Harbour a company called Sea Holdings have a permit to explore ans have expressed their hope to mine the gold and silver in the sediment in this Schedule 4 area. Nick Smith, Gerry Brownlee and Simon Bridges say they just looking at these areas as part of a wider survey of where minerals and coal might be found. However it is clear from miners statements they expect to be able to mine. The Government is either not being straight up with the miners or with the public.
In addition to this erosion a mining company called “Broken Hills” is seeking an actual mining permit in Schedule 4, conservation land at Tairua on the Coromandel. Simon Bridges won’t tell me what he intends to do with this permit but it is clearly illegal. The Government cannot be trusted to protect Schedule 4 so we need to renew our pressure on them to keep the promise, leave Schedule 4 areas alone, lets love them and protect them!