Resource consents for mining might be speed up – Heatley
Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley told TV3’s The Nation programme at the weekend that Cabinet was considering “regionally significant” projects being eligible to be called in for a simplified consent process, as with projects of national significance.
His comments came on the eve of Bathurst Mining facing an appeal in the High Court from the Royal Forest and Bird Society and West Coast environmentalists arguing that the consents for its Denniston coking coal project should have taken global warming into account.
Bathurst shares have lost two-thirds of their value in the past 12 months.
Investors in the Western Australian-based, dual-listed company have expressed frustration at the length of time it is taking to obtain consents to expand its New Zealand operations.
Mr Heatley sympathises with Bathurst.
“I only met with them last week, actually, and they are tremendously frustrated.
“The reality at the moment is we've got a court system where people can continue to oppose, and what we're saying is well maybe we need to bring in a consenting system where it essentially goes – you know, you have a first chance, last chance in court, it's only appealable on point of law and then the answer is either yes or no, and you can get on with it.
“For nationally significant projects like the Waterview connector in Auckland we've used the national consenting process where we call it in and with a nine months sort of turnaround time consent it.
“What we're considering at the moment is when you’ve got very significant projects sort of a regional level whether we can have a similar system.
“It might be a turnaround time of something like six months, and it's only challengeable on points or law."
He said Environment Minister Amy Adams was looking at legislation to provide for this approach.