Entry

20/02/2017

From Phil McCabe at the hearings in Wellington

 

First up, I want to say a heartfelt Thank You!

It’s Sunday night and I’m on a plane back to Wellington for the second week of the month-long hearing of the seabed mining application by Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine 65sqkm, off the coast of Patea in South Taranaki.

The hearing started last Thursday and KASM was there in force holding the wannabe seabed miners to account and we’ll be there in Wellington’s ‘Cake Tin’ (Westpac Stadium) for the whole week as scientific and economic experts talk to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) about the technical aspects of this massive proposal.  Our lawyers are representing both us and Greenpeace. 

It must be said that if we weren’t there last week, there would have been big gaps where important facts could well have slipped passed the Decision Making Committee (which we call the DMC), however astute they may be. Through questioning TTR’s people, our lawyers drew out some very interesting revelations that will certainly have some impact on the final decision. Bizarrely, for a chunk of Friday, apart from TTR and the EPA we were the only ones present.

Phil, Duncan and Ruby at TTR hearing in Wellington
Phil McCabe with lawyers Duncan Curreand Ruby Haazen at the hearing in Wellington

We have a very strong legal and scientific team and I want to say, straight up, that we could not be nearly as present, nor as effective without your generous support.

So THANK YOU!

Here are a few key issues that came out on Friday. The company’s CEO, Alan Eggers: 

  • confirmed that if they gained consent they intend to develop more seabed mines off the South Taranaki coast and further north off Kawhia.
  • confirmed that money for building the ships would come from overseas, most likely Australia, London and Hong Kong.
  • confirmed that foreign investors means foreign control of the company and the profits will go offshore.
  • confirmed that they chose not to consult with KASM because of our name and our name meant that we weren’t able to participate in productive discussions.
  • They sheepishly acknowledged that they should have consulted with KASM. This happened for the first hearing as well – we are the only grassroots group focussing on seabed mining, and we represent literally thousands of you who are concerned at the impact this destructive practice would have on our oceans.  We would have been happy to talk with the company, to be consulted, but they simply refused to do this.  

This week is an important one and as we move through this hearing I reckon we can all be very proud of the fact that KASM, our ‘grass-roots’, volunteer run, community organisation has managed to gather and attract such a high level team of legal, scientific and economic experts to literally speak on behalf of the marine environment and the myriad of wondrous aquatic creatures that inhabit that environment.  We speak to the Decision Makers in a technical manner on behalf of ocean lovers who know that this proposal is ridiculously out of step with what the world needs in 2017.

We are in the throes of putting up a serious challenge to TTR’s proposals and their ridiculous assertions of minimal environmental damage and high economic return to New Zealand – assertions which they continued to make over and over again in the first two days of the hearing, despite confirming that most profits will go offshore. 

This week we have seven experts delivering evidence to the EPA:

  • Two Marine Mammal experts talking about Blue Whales, Maui Dolphins and how important the South Taranaki Bight is to Marine Mammals.
  • A Sediment Transport expert talking about the plume created by dumping 45 million tonnes of tailings a year into the ocean – for 35 years.
  • Benthic Ecologist talking about the effects to the life in and on the seafloor in the area and how that might effect the greater marine food web.
  • An Ecotoxicologist talking about the likely effects on sea life from the mine tailings.
  • A Seabird expert highlighting that the area is important to the Little Penguins and several other at risk species of seabirds
  • An Economic expert talking about the environmental and social costs of the project and the fact that TTR did not factor these costs into their economic analysis.

While these experts have offered us very reasonable rates, this is still a very expensive exercise and we get no support from government.

With hard work from our fundraising volunteers and generous donations from many of you, we have almost gathered the funds needed for this battle but we still need a fair few thousand dollars.

Click here if you would like to help with a donation, large or small – every bit counts.

So the hearing schedule is solidly booked with experts for the next four days and a few submitters appear on Friday. Then on the 6th of March the hearing moves to New Plymouth where the majority of submitters will be heard.

We will march on and do our best to ensure that our beloved marine environment is not damaged by this proposal and we’ll keep you updated along the way.

Thank you again for all of your efforts and support.

Kia kaha

Phil