Supreme Court backs Bathurst in climate change ruling, Chief Justice disagrees
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal seeking to have the impacts of climate change taken into account in the consenting of the controversial Escarpment mine on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau, though Chief Justice Sian Elias was a dissenting voice.
In a majority decision, Justices John McGrath, William Young and Susan Glazebrook today dismissed an appeal by West Coast ENT and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand seeking to have the climate change effects of burning coal taken into account during the resource consent process.
The judges concluded that Parliament intended to include climate change issues only in relation to consents involving direct discharges, rather than capture those entities such as Bathurst Resources and Solid Energy looking to extract coal for export.
"Given the examples we have provided, the most likely explanation for the form of the 2004 Amendment Act is that those responsible for its drafting assumed the climate change arguments could only be advanced in relation to rules and consents involving direct discharges," the judgment said.
Chief Justice Elias disagreed, saying she would allow an appeal, saying she "would want to hear further from the parties before making the declaration to the opposite effect in the terms proposed by West Coast ENT."
Excluding the end use of coal would undermine the sustainable management principles of the legislation, Chief Justice Elias said.
"That exercise cannot adequately be undertaken if the decision-maker is required to ignore the acknowledged fact that the end use of the coal to be obtained will release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, probably contributing to global climate change," she said.
Bathurst welcomed the majority decision, saying it is now waiting on final consent from the Environment Court to allow the Escarpment mine development to begin.
The coal miner's shares rose 6.9 percent to 18.7 cents today.