New mechanisms threaten sustainable management of the Buller Plateau
The Buller Plateau is host to significant indigenous flora and fauna habitats that qualify for protection under s 6(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
It also boasts large coal reserves that have an estimated net present value of $3.2 billion.
Coal mining (both historic and ongoing) has impacted the Buller Plateaus ecosystems, underscoring the significance of the remaining indigenous vegetation and fauna habitats. Currently, MBIE is considering measures that, if implemented, would effectively open up protected areas to mining interests.
Sally Gepp and Peter Anderson, in-house counsel, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc, consider whether and how the new streamlined Planning Process (introduced with the RLAA) might be leveraged; they review tentative government plans to create a Special Economic Zone in order to facilitate mining of the Buller Plateau; and they consider the implications for sustainable management of the Plateau.