Environmentalists may occupy Denniston

By Kim Fulton of The Westport News -
Photo / File
Photo / File

The Coal Action Network Aotearoa isn't ruling out occupying the Denniston Plateau if Bathurst gets approval for its proposed coal mine there.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesman Kristin Gillies said occupation of Denniston was a possibility as a lot of people around the country felt very passionately about the issue.

It was hard to mobilise people to go to the West Coast but there had been talks about protesting there.

The group believed Bathurst was in poor financial shape and didn't think the Coast community should be relying on it to provide jobs.

Similar mines in Australia were in financial trouble so the group questioned whether Bathurst's mine was economically viable.

Mr Gillies didn't think the fight to stop the mine was over yet.

"I think we're still quite a way from seeing mining happening."

There was still a Forest & Bird appeal to be decided as well as a Supreme Court decision on the effects of mining on climate change. The group was watching the situation.

"There are a lot of people watching from around the country and there is talk of some sort of occupation, but we're still kind of quite confident that we're quite a long way from seeing mining happening yet."

The group was currently working on a Jobs After Coal report. It was keen to contribute to a positive dialogue around the long-term future for coal mining on the West Coast and to talk about its other economic options.

"We think it's kind of silly to put all its eggs in one basket."

Forest & Bird top of the south field officer Debs Martin couldn't say whether Forest & Bird would undertake any protest action if the mine went ahead but said the focus of its battle right now was in the courtroom.

She said its most effective voice was in the courts.

Forest & Bird couldn't rule out further legal action, especially if it thought poor decisions had been made.

Some of its legal team had serious concerns around the fact the court seemed to resile from statements made earlier in the court.

The environmental group wanted to make sure any conditions agreed to were conditions that could be enforced and upheld.

The decision from the Environment Court didn't give the group any confidence that the council would uphold those decisions.

Forest & Bird cared passionately about the Denniston issue and were still doing what they could to save the plateau.

Ms Martin said the organisation had received messages of support for its cause from up and down the country today including from the West Coast.

- The Westport News

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