West Coasters are in charge of their own destiny and won't be told what to do by Auckland business lobbyists, say two West Coast mayors.
Buller Mayor Pat McManus and Grey Mayor Tony Kokshoorn have hit back at lobby group Pure Advantage's criticism of mining on the Denniston Plateau.
Pure Advantage, a group of prominent businesspeople promoting green growth for greater wealth, joined Forest & Bird in questioning Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson's decision to shut out public consultation over the proposed Bathurst Resources mine.
The Coast mayors agreed that New Zealand should plan for a prosperous future based on sustainable businesses.
"But it's a bit rich for airport magnates, airline executives and booze barons to tell us how to live our lives," they said in a statement.
"Apparently, the West Coast is guilty of wanting our cake and eating it too. Pure Advantage members talk about branding, but they run airports, airlines, bus and car companies, Chinese-based manufacturing and spirit and wine companies - some of the world's most resource-intensive industries.
"All of these industries need steel. And steel is made with hard coking coal - the type of coal that's found on the Denniston Plateau. This is high quality coal, not coal for use in power stations."
The mayors said it was important to move away from fossil fuels over time, but the West Coast needed the hundreds of jobs on offer from reopening old mines on the Denniston Plateau. It had been mined for over 100 years.
"The West Coast needs these jobs to be provided by a responsible mining operator who will also fund the rehabilitation of the plateau, as well as the wider conservation estate for generations to come. That's what's on offer for our people and we're ready to do business."
The mayors said they were open to discussions with Pure Advantage and would like to invite the group to visit the Denniston Plateau. They were also keen to hear how Pure Advantage would replace the several hundred jobs provided by the West Coast's mining industry.
Pure Advantage has said Denniston mining is not the green growth New Zealand needs.
Bypassing public consultation over an access agreement to public conservation land was another threat to New Zealand's clean and green image, chairman Rob Morrison said on Tuesday.
"New Zealand promotes its pure image and clean and green credentials, probably more than any other country. It relies heavily on those credentials, especially in the export and tourism sectors," he said.
Mr Morrison said the Government defended New Zealand's pure image while encouraging mining on public conservation and Crown land, "a case of wanting your cake and eating it too".
Pure Advantage trustees include New Zealander of the Year Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe and The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall.
The Conservation Minister said last week that there was no legal requirement to consult the public on coalminer Bathurst Resources' application for access to public conservation land at Denniston, and the Government would not do so.
Forest & Bird said the Government had reneged on its promise to give the public a say.
The public was notified of Bathurst's application for resource consent, and the company gained consent earlier this year from independent commissioners appointed by local councils. The consent is being appealed in the Environment Court.
Bathurst also needs, from the Department of Conservation, an access agreement to dig up the coal and a concession for a coal processing plant.
The public will be consulted only on the concession.