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No new mines on conservation land signalled

The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has today confirmed that the new Government will strengthen the protection for public conservation land by making it off-limits for new mining.

The announcement was made as part of the Speech from the Throne given today at Parliament, which outlined the Government’s policy and legislative proposals.

“Public conservation lands are set aside for nature to thrive and for New Zealanders and visitors to enjoy. Mining, especially open-cast mining runs counter to that. It destroys indigenous vegetation and habitats, permanently changes natural landscapes and can create sizeable waste rock dumps with a risk of acid mine drainage polluting waterways.

“New Zealanders expect to see our conservation lands and their wild landscapes and indigenous plants and wildlife protected from being dug up by bulldozers and diggers.

“We have a biodiversity crisis with 4,000 of our native plants and wildlife threatened with, or at risk of extinction. The places they live need protection.

“We need to build a sustainable, modern, clean green economy for all New Zealanders. New mines on our protected lands are not going to take us there.

“Coal mining adds to the climate crisis and new mines generally have a 15-year lifespan. Once the coal is gone, the jobs are gone and so is the unique environment of places like the West Coast – which is the basis of a sustainable economy and long-term jobs. 

“Places like the West Coast and Coromandel have diversified their economies on the back of their stunning natural beauty and landscapes, and the warmth of local communities. This Government is committed to helping workers in these regions make a just transition from mining.

“Tourism on the West Coast is now responsible for more jobs than the mining sector. It’s crucial that we protect the very thing that draws visitors – unequalled beech and rimu forests, river valleys and a network of huts and tracks.

“The Green Party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour included a goal of significantly increasing the funding for the Department of Conservation (DOC). I welcome the commitment to that in the Speech from the Throne. The Department of Conservation has been under resourced for the last nine years. We need to scale up its capacity,” said Minister Sage.

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