STDC Submission re Sand Mining Application
Friday, October 14, 2016
The South Taranaki District Council (the Council) appreciates the opportunity to submit on the above application from TTR. The proposed mining permit is immediately offshore from this Council’s area so we are, in practical terms, its closest neighbour.
The Council has received a number of briefings and presentations from TTR regarding this proposal and our elected members feel they have a reasonable understanding of the project. TTR has engaged well with us and gone to considerable lengths to ensure we were well informed on the technology and techniques that will be used in the extraction process.
The previous Council discussed this project on several occasions and there were differing views among elected members over the project, over whether the Council should submit on the application and over what stance the Council should take in any submission. Our elected members are well aware that this second consent application by TTR has engendered a wide range of views in our communities - from outright opposition through to cautious support.
Naturally the Council has a real interest in ensuring this project does not negatively affect our local marine environment, our district, or our communities. Notwithstanding that we recognise that the final decision sits with the EPA and have faith that a robust process will be followed and a sensible decision reached.
Some of the concerns the Council holds on behalf of its communities are as follows:
The South Taranaki coastline is very vulnerable to erosion and each year some of our most productive land slips into the sea. Any practice that speeds up coastal erosion would be of great economic harm to our district.
Users and gatherers of kaimoana in the marine and coastal environment are concerned about the possible effects on their food and fishing grounds.
This is the first time anywhere in the world that iron sand on the sea floor has been mined in this manner so there is concern over the experimental nature of the project.
There is a belief that as these minerals form part of “our backyard”, they belong to our people and if they are to be extracted, there should be some form of compensation for the exploitation of our mineral wealth.
We note that that the TTR application includes a number of proposed conditions and the Council wishes to specifically comment on two of these under section 2.4 - Community Relationships.
Condition 44 – Local Community Fund
TTR have suggested an annual fund of $50,000 be set aside for projects that benefit the social and economic wellbeing of the South Taranaki community. The Council believe a minimum of $100,000 per annum should be set aside for this purpose. The Council also asks that the annual amount be inflation proofed and that the scheme remain in place for the life of the consent. We have experienced similar funds being established by other entities being withdrawn after a few years of operation.
Condition 45 – Training Facility
The Council is highly supportive of this facility being established but we would like to see this commitment extended to also include the establishment of a heliport in Hawera which we believe will have benefit to both TTR and our district.
Two of the Council’s strategic goals are; the attraction and retention of residents; and maximising employment opportunities within our district. Given that all off-shore personnel working on the mining operation will be transported by helicopter, the Council is very keen to encourage those staff to live within the South Taranaki area and the possibility of this will be enhanced if the helicopter base is within, or close to, Hawera.
An additional benefit of a Hawera Heliport is the convenient access it would provide for repairs and maintenance. South Taranaki has many businesses with highly skilled staff and decades of experience in supporting the many large industrial sites located within our district so basing the heliport in Hawera, will allow TTR easy access to these businesses and staff.
The Council therefore believes that an extra condition should be added within the Community Relationships section (or where appropriate) as follows:
That TTR establish and maintain a heliport to service the offshore operation, in or close to the town of Hawera.
In conclusion, the Council is very concerned about any potential degradation of our coastal environment but believes that if the consents are approved, there should be clear and tangible economic benefits for our district.
This submission is under the signature of the Mayor of the South Taranaki District but it has been submitted with the knowledge of the members of the 2013-2016 Council.