Greenpeace Urges Renewables Instead of Coal

Greenpeace said that the thumbs up given by the Waikato Regional Council for Awaroa 4, a giant new coal mine near Huntly is appalling and that New Zealand’s Resource Management Act (RMA) process, which lead to its approval, was abused. Greenpeace said that the project is a gross abuse of the Resource Management Act and is looking at legal options.

Huntly, New Zealand – November 6, 2003 [] “It is ridiculous to be considering digging up coal when New Zealand has abundant wind, solar and other clean renewable energy sources,” said Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson. Environment groups sent a letter in March warning New Zealand Environment Minister Marion Hobbs that her new ‘limited notification’ RMA rules would be abused. “The new rules were supposed to be for proposals with a ‘minor’ environmental effect, like an extension to a building,” said Atkinson. According to Greenpeace, Environment Waikato (a regional council that manages natural and physical resources in New Zealand’s Waikato Region) has interpreted the proposal for the coal mines to have a “minor” impact, even though the open cast coal mine, in which 113 million tons of earth must be moved, vegetation cleared, and a stream re-diverted to get to the 11 million tons of coal, resulting in the taking and discharge of water, air emissions, earthworks and all other detrimental environmental effects. “The consenting of the Awaroa 4 coal mine at Huntly has been a debacle: from the panic-decisions and rubberstamping at the highest levels of Government earlier this year, to the subsequent perversion of new RMA ‘limited notification’ rules, used to restricting public input, and now the approval for the coal mine by Environment Waikato,” said Atkinson. Greenpeace maintains the opencast mine will further contaminate Lake Waahi from polluted water pumped out of the enormous crater, which would then run into the Waikato River. “The legacy of this decision and the terrible precedent it sets, sits firmly at the feet of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs,” said Atkinson. “This is a clear abuse of the new RMA rules and Marian Hobbs has allowed it to go through unchallenged.” Greenpeace claims that the 11 million tons of coal dug out of the Awaroa 4 mine will be crushed to dust and burnt at the Huntly power station, creating 26.4 million tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide. “The mine has been pushed through by industry lobbying and the Government panicking during this year’s energy crisis,” said Atkinson. “The same Government wants to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions through the Kyoto Protocol.”
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