Biodiversity hotspot Denniston now open for coal mining

Last week, the Environment Court ruled against Forest and Bird’s plea to stop Bathurst’s open cast coal mine on the breathtaking Denniston Plateau.

This week, Dr Leon Perrie of Te Papa wrote a blog post highlighting the Department of Conservation’s report that finds eight critical, endangered, or vulnerable species in the area.

These include a critically endangered fern and our native carnivorous snail, as well as lichens and liverworts. This amazing variety of life makes the Denniston Plateau a biodiversity ‘hot spot’.

 Rod Morris

Photo credit: Rod Morris

These eight amazing native species are special to the Denniston Plateau – we can’t find the same biodiversity anywhere else, and we can’t trade off their habitat for another one, as Conservation Minister Nick Smith signed off on as part of the deal. We need to protect these species and that means not mining the Plateau.

The Denniston case also highlights the need for Resource Management Act reform, to require applications under the Act to consider the impact of climate change. It’s deeply disappointing that  National spearheaded the mine and Labour is “happy” with the process and “respects” the outcome. If we want to get serious about keeping climate change to 2 degrees, then we simply have to stop digging up coal.

The Greens will continue to support the hard work of Forest & Bird and other local community organisations. We’re opposed to the mine both because it’s in a biodiversity hotspot that should be protected, and because we need to keep coal in the hole and move to renewable sources of energy.

The Denniston Plateau is irreplaceable. National’s dirty “drill it, mine it, sell it” ideology has no place in a biodiversity hotspot like Denniston.

20 Comments Posted

  1. It’s Anarchy: The Transmogrification of Everyday Life, ISBN 0-473-05714-X, Committee for the Establismment of Civilisation 1999. Don’t think its on-line but you should find it someplace. There’s a new edition planned for publication in Canada.

  2. “Life is obviously a great deal more robust than she would like us to believe if this mined area is apparently one of the most biodiverse areas in existence.”

    If the proposal for the Denniston area was anything remotely resembling the form of mining that occured many decades ago, you might have some sort of argument. But it isn’t.

  3. “define in detail”

    Dave, this is a blog. The brief intro to the social system I support that I wrote some years ago was around 10,000 words. You really want me to post a more detailed version here?

  4. This post should have a more accurate title.
    The title should have just a few letters added to one of the words and become “Biodiversity Hotspot Denniston now REOPENED for coal-mining”
    Denniston was mined for about 80 years, from the 1880s to the late 1960s. Indeed almost the only reason for people today to go to Denniston is to see the remnants of the mining operations, and the remains of the town where up to 2000 people lived.
    In spite of the many years of mining the author of this post claims that “The amazing variety of life makes the Denniston Plateau a biodiversity “hotspot” “. Life is obviously a great deal more robust than she would like us to believe if this mined area is apparently one of the most biodiverse areas in existence. Perhaps we need to consider the possibility that mining is GOOD for the environment. It is at least as sensible as some of the wild claims made about its damage causing possibilities.

  5. From a purely economic perspective, we don’t really need the income this mine will generate, but if we want to maintain a high inequality economy, it’s necessary to bring in more and more income, so that the super rich can keep their idiotic levels of wealth, while still ensuring that there’s a trickle of wealth to those nearer the bottom thus keeping the grumbling to a containable level.

    We’re not wrecking the environment because we need jobs, we’re wrecking it to maintain a stupid social system.

  6. “but we need most of the things we import to sustain a modern lifestyle…”

    Is there anyone out there (especially a politician) game enough to overview and query the genuine necessity for many of the believed needs in our society? One by one, we really could do with a little less if we really cared about the environment, economy and each other. It truly bugs me to see so much of our once proud (and employing) manufacturing industries going offshore leaving many of the former staff scrambling for another vocation and that’s if they can find one.

    Why are we importing more foodstuffs from dubious origin and of uncertain standards when we should be promoting and protecting (within reason)our own? Pork is a classic example. Why are we eating plums from America and snowpeas from Zimbabwe? Wait for glorious NZ in season produce if they can’t be hothouse grown in NZ out of season.

    And don’t get me started on society’s love affair with the latest I Phone or whatever. The IT industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to cutting employment and creating waste. Things have got to have some balance but many are not willing to even consider it.
    And just for the record, I do not buy American plums and snow peas from Zimbabwe. I really do try to practice what I believe!

  7. Its happening all over the world. Money doesn’t care about consequences. Politicians are promoting growth and growth demands harvesting resources. The whole world needs to start thinking in the right direction.

  8. BJ
    The problem: opportunity that I see is this.

    Our balance of payments is bad, but we need most of the things we import to sustain a modern lifestyle
    Our employment opportunities are getting fewer, and people are working till later in life, but we need jobs for about 40,000 people every year coming off schools and tertiary institutions
    Our potential for totally sustainable energy supply is probably better than most countries’, but we don’t have the capital to develop the necessary inventions and infrastructure to realise that potential
    We import capital for our businesses and infrastructure, but that exacerbates our balance of pAyment issue

    By exporting minerals which have value to others, we create capital and jobs in the short term, allowing us to invest in renewables for the long term.

    While not perfect for a global perspective, it does create value for NZ, both short and long term. So I am pro this development.

    Happy Wednesday.

  9. Whereas I’m not going to argue a word BJ says, one can understand why Kiwi governments (note plural) would be preoccupied with mining. David Clendon in his blog post Improving productivity – one research paper at a time? provides a link to the answer.

    For the curious, download Productivity by the numbers: The New Zealand experience (PDF, 3MB) and look at figure A.1 on page 38. How could any government ignore that?

    TL;DR: Mining returns by far the highest GDP per capita of all NZ industrial sectors.

  10. It doesn’t matter if it is for export or not Dave. The facts are that it is coming out of the ground and it will be burned, and building the NZ economy on the extractive industries is a short-sighted, stupid, reprehensible (reserved words deleted here) decision by a (more reserved words deleted) government. That previous governments made similar errors to get us into this mess is true too. All the way back to the mid 80’s when New Zealand decided it was going to remain at the mercy of foreign banks rather than be a sovereign state.

    We’re so pwned we elected one of the (reserved words deleted) to be our Prime Minister.

  11. Hi Catherine So were was Fish and Games report on the Rear Nesting bird at Bathursts Nightcaps Mine? The council staff couldn’t get it off the former owner.?But the best of how both Environment Southland and Southland Distict councils performance in issuing Discharge permits Known to be is excess of every District Plan Rule.?So councils issue permits for leaky builds and are entitled to issue Discharges to the Environment that will exceed all District Plan Rules? Maybe dairy farmers should apply for these permits.Yes they are not worth anything as both councils have never publicly notified there right to issue permits in excess of the District plan Rules.

  12. it’s such an unresonable ask of this govt to care for animals. plants, etc when they don’t even give a damn about humans…speechless again…

  13. So even after an exhaustive process to the enviroment court and every appeal you can think of you aren’t happy …you will never be happy, that is why your opinion and will never be accepted here on the coast , those of us who live here know all you want is to lock the coast up as some sort of ecological theme park, that you and your urban friends can come and visit every now and then … Sorry but we need jobs and we need business that mining generates so we can have the vibrant communities the rest of the country enjoys

  14. I agree with keeping the coal in the hole.

    I don’t know what the new jobs on the West Coast will be. Come to think of it, I’ve been told that the Wellington night-life is fading, and I don’t know what the new jobs in Wellington will be.

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