Government approach judicious

The Government’s proposals to open up limited parts of the conservation estate to mining are appropriately judicious, Chapman Tripp partner Brigid McArthur said today.

“They are a step in the right direction from the industry’s perspective but with a very obvious attempt to balance the competing but not irreconcilable conservation interest.

“The establishment of the contestable conservation fund and the commitment to further low impact investigation before more land is released should reassure the public that the Government is treading carefully.

“The announcements are limited to minerals prospecting, exploration and mining, not petroleum, and stress that existing land access and resource consent provisions will continue to apply.

“But the proposal that in future any land access applications will be determined by both the Minister of Energy and Resources and the Minister responsible for administering the land should introduce a stronger economic development emphasis – as well, perhaps, as testing the informal rankings of Ministers within Cabinet.

“There is also to be a welcome freeing up of the access procedures, removing much delay and red-tape,” she said.

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