It’s been crunch time this week in Raglan environmentalists’ fight against seabed mining.
Forty locals have been arguing at an Environmental Protection Authority hearing in Hamilton against 90 per cent foreign-owned Trans Tasman Resources’ application to mine the seabed for ironsands along the west coast.
The Hamilton hearing’s in a lounge at Waikato Stadium, and was scheduled to have continued all week.
While Sea Shepherd Auckland coordinator Tracy Brown was due to have fronted up on Monday along with some Raglan locals, another key submission later this week was expected to be that of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining president Phil McCabe.
KASM meanwhile is irate that it did not have a lawyer acting on its behalf at the ”biggest week of the hearing” in Wellington last week after its application for $40,000 assistance from a Government fund was rejected.
Phil says KASM sought help from the Environment Ministry’s environmental legal assistance fund in January and was told there was a high likelihood it would qualify. But he says KASM was told a week before the hearing began that Environment Minister Amy Adams chose not to action recommended funding to groups working on marine consent applications.
“It was gutting because we were half counting on that funding,” says Phil, explaining that KASM’s main lawyer was in New York doing United Nations work.
“If you steal a Snickers bar from the local dairy you get given a lawyer to represent you, but a volunteer-run community not-for-profit group representing thousands in a bid to protect the ocean from very real negative effects gets nothing. There’s something wrong there.”
Ironically TTR has recently been awarded a multimillion-dollar taxpayer handout for innovation, KASM points out.
Of the 4850 submissions on TTR’s seabed mining application, 18 per cent are from the Waikato – and KASM’s Cindy Baxter says the majority of those are believed to be from Raglan.