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Seabed mining opponents mobilise

By Hunter Calder, additional reporting Sieska Verdonk

For the second time in as many years, opponents of seabed mining off picturesque South Taranaki, have a fight on their hands.

And, there is growing concern among Taranaki locals about the environmental impacts if seabed mining gets the green light.

Local diver, George Bailey fears the seafloor and reefs could be destroyed, with businesses and other coastline users affected if seabed miners come in.

"When you remove something from the natural ecosystem it will upset the balance of what's there, then that will have a flow on effect not only to the fish and the animals and fish life... but also the people, the businesses and the kaimoana."

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) wants the right to mine 50 million tonnes of iron sand off the coast of Patea in Taranaki.

Their 2014 application was rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency, on the grounds it did not consider the wider impact on the environment.

A local Iwi leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says TTR is not being transparent and many questions have been left unanswered.

"If they had that information then it should have come forward during the appeal process, during the next consultation process and it should have come forward in this last application."

"So for us it's really simple, it's wasting our energy and it's wasting our resources."

In a written statement TTR say the proposed mining area has been extensively surveyed and there are no threatened or at-risk' species.

But Debbie Ngarewa-Packer disputes that.

"The reality is, with this particular activity... it is far too high risk... we can't hand on heart qualify them (TTR) in any type of environmental, cultural practice for the purpose of short term gain."

Last time TTR applied for a marine consent, thousands of people made submissions against the company.

Lobby group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, or KASM, hope this time they will get the same level of support right up the West Coast of the North Island, and beyond.

Piha resident Cindy Baxter says if seabed mining goes ahead in South Taranaki, it will set a precedent.

"If this goes through there are companies right up West Coast of the North Island wanting to put in similar applications."

- NZ Herald

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