A High Court bid by Greenpeace and a Maori tribe to quash a permit granted to Brazilian oil giant Petrobras for exploration off the East Coast has been thrown out.
The applicants claimed the Government failed to meet environmental and consultation obligations under the Crown Minerals Act, Treaty of Waitangi obligations and international law.
Justice Warwick Gendall said their claims for judicial review failed on all counts. Not only that, he said that if he had found an error of law in the process he would have taken the rare step of not granting relief.
In effect, he is saying he would not have overturned the permit because of the time delay in the applicants' issuing proceedings.
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The challenge was not made until 15 months after the permit had been granted, by which time Petrobras had spent at least $8 million, and the time between the notification of the relevant block on offer and the challenge was two years nine months.
"In my view, prejudice to it over the delay is significant," Justice Gendall said.
Greenpeace and iwi Te Whanau a Apanui spokesman Rikirangi Gage said last night they were considering whether to appeal.
Greenpeace climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson said the fact remained that "exploratory deep sea oil drilling comes with the risk of catastrophic failure as we saw in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010".