Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board members are delighted a proposal to mine the South Taranaki seabed has been quashed and are paying close attention to the High Court decision.
Consent to mine iron-sand offshore from Patea was granted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in August last year. Mining company Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) proposed to suck up iron-sand from the seabed, separate out the iron and return the rest to the sea floor.
The decision was appealed to the High Court in Wellington by a combination of environment, Māori and fishing groups. On August 28 Justice Peter Churchman released his judgement.
He quashed the application because it relied on a "suck it and see" adaptive management approach, whereby conditions were firmed up after mining started and the effects became apparent.
The board submitted against TTR's first mining proposal in 2013, saying it risked damaging the environment - including marine mammals, and that background information was too uncertain. That application was declined.
The board submitted against the second application as well, despite the Conservation Department having made no objection to it. Consents were given, and the board was one of the groups appealing them to the High Court.
Chairman Te Tiwha Puketapu said members wanted to make sure the EPA decision matched with new exclusive economic zone legislation and protected the environment from pollution.
It wanted to ensure decisions were cautious and made on good information, and find out whether the EPA should have taken the Resource Management Act (RMA) and New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement into account.
Members were delighted the adaptive management approach was ruled unlawful in the matter of sediment discharge, and that Justice Churchman favoured "caution and environmental protection". But he did not find in favour of other concerns they raised.
"The board is disappointed in that regard and is reflecting carefully on those parts of the High Court decision," its statement said.