Kia ora koutou,

Two Councils have to make decisions on Solid Energy’s resource consent application for its proposed pilot briquetting plant. They are Environment Southland and the Gore District Council. One has now made a decision.

Environment Southland have decided that Solid Energy’s application to build a pilot lignite-to-briquettes plant in Southland should proceed non-notified … sort of.

The “sort of” is that the approval of a range of individuals, companies and groups named in the decision is required for non-notification to proceed.

The groups and companies are:

Te Ao Marama Inc

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu

Public Health South

Gore District Council

Fish & Game New Zealand, Southland Region

Department of Conservation

Ardle Farms Ltd (RD 21, Geraldine)

Dongwha Patinna NZ (Gore)

The individuals are:

N W Beattie (Mataura)

K A & E I Whitehead (Gore)

Clint Cummings (RD 4, Gore)

James North (RD 4, Gore)

A Riepma (Mataura)

A G & L J Perkins (RD 2, Gore)

You can view Environment Southland’s notification decision here: http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/pilot-briquetting-plant-notification-document/

Here’s what Environment Southland has decided, as explained by them:

1. The approvals [of these individuals and groups] are required before the application can proceed non-notified.

2. Approvals have not yet been obtained. The applicant has been given the option of proceeding non-notified with the approvals, or proceeding by limited notification (notice sent to the affected parties). The application is on hold for either the receipt of the approvals or the applicant’s instruction to proceed by limited notification.

3. There is no set timeframe while the application is on hold for approvals.

CAN Aotearoa would have preferred that the application be fully notified, given the importance of the issues involved. At the same time, the decision as it stands at the moment still gives us some opportunities to influence the consenting process.

So, right now, there are two main lines of work being pursued by groups active in the anti-lignite campaign:

* Exploring the legal status of the notification decision

* Contacting these named groups and individuals, where appropriate, to encourage them not to give approval.

If you know any of these people, this is a good time to have a polite conversation with them, and encourage them not to give their approval. Gore District Council also has a decision to make on notification, and it has not yet done so. The latest word from Gore District Council is: “I wish to advise that the Gore District Council has not yet determined how the resource consent will be processed. The application is presently ‘on hold’ pending receipt of additional information. Upon receipt of that information the matter will be determined by independent commissioners. I will forward you a copy of their decision once it is publicly available.”

The pilot briquetting plant is just the beginning of Solid Energy’s extensive plans for lignite mining in Southland. And our opposition to it is just the beginning of the community and national opposition to those plans.

We will keep you posted on how all this goes.

Regards

Tim Jones

for Coal Action Network Aotearoa