New Zealand Labour Party

Chatham Rock decision the only one possible in the circumstances

Today’s decision to refuse the proposal to mine phosphate nodules on the Chatham Rise is the only one possible in the circumstances, says Labour’s environment spokesperson, Megan Woods.

“Labour congratulates the EPA on a reasoned and evidence- based decision that protects the existing fishing industry and the unique marine environment

“It is especially satisfying that the science and the evidence has won out given that the Government allocated government R&D funding in the form of a Growth Grant to the company late last year. At the time Labour expressed its concern that an investment had been made before a decision was made on the permit. 

“This is even more perplexing given that the EPA found that the benefit to New Zealand was ‘modest at best’. 

“There are simply too many unknowns in this proposal. We do not know what the effect will be on the enormous fisheries resource on the Chatham Rise. We just don’t know what will happen to the commercial fishermen and quota holders if 1.5 million tonnes of phosphate nodules were dredged off the sea bed.

“I think the Environment Protection Authority has got it right  saying ‘the destructive  effects of the extractive process could not be mitigated by any set of conditions that could be imposed’.

“The evidence simply did not stack up, despite the applicant’s efforts to research and substantiate its case. There was a lack of certainty about the receiving environment and the adverse effects of the proposal on the environment and existing interests including fisheries.”