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Govt still being accused of ignoring public opinion on mining

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 22 NZPA - Despite scrapping plans to mine protected conservation land, the Government is still being accused of ignoring public opinion.

The Greens say it doesn't have a mandate to mine in less contentious areas, which is Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee's new focus since the backdown on his original intentions in the face of furious public protest.

The Government is going to invest $4.5 million in aero-magnetic surveys of Northland, the West Coast and other parts of the South Island.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday gave a strong indication the surveys are likely to lead to more mining in some of the less scenic conservation land.

"I still believe that the really big opportunities lie in other parts of the country...for, potentially, iron-sands and certainly oil and gas, but also minerals on conservation land that is less pristine," he said.

Mr Brownlee says the consultation over mining protected conservation land showed that while New Zealanders didn't want that, there was a clear mandate for more mining in other areas.

That was "a bizarre claim" Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague said last night.

He said of the more than 30,000 submitters on the consultation document, only 1.5 percent supported more mining on conservation land.

"There was only one clear message from submitters about the future of our conservation estate -- love it, protect it," Mr Hague said.

Coromandel Watchdog spokesman Denis Tegg said it was great that conservation land protected under schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act wasn't going to be touched -- but half the peninsula wasn't in that category.

"The southern land has identical high-value conservation qualities to the area which is currently protected," he said.

"It has outstanding landscapes, endangered frogs and other species, and pristine rivers and forests, and is the foundation for the tourism industry here."

Mr Tegg said the Government was wrongly portraying public submissions as a mandate to mine non-schedule four land.

"The Government should extend schedule four protection to the conservation land in the southern half of the Coromandel Peninsula," he said.

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