Forest & Bird says it is a national disgrace that authorities continue green-lighting Bathurst Resources' coal mining activities, despite the company being a repeat environmental offender.
The mining company has been fined $18,000 after pleading guilty to polluting the habitat of New Zealand’s most endangered freshwater fish, the Canterbury mudfish.
In the sentencing decision, the judge commented that "the offending took place in a vulnerable environment which is a highly important habitat of a nationally threatened species" and that "there is a high degree of culpability on Bathurst."
Forest & Bird Canterbury and West Coast Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink says “Bathurst Resources has shown a callous disregard for New Zealand’s environment. It is appalling they are allowed to continue digging for coal anywhere at all, let alone near New Zealand’s most fragile environments like endangered fish habitat, and on the Denniston Plateau.
“The Department of Conservation raised serious concerns about Bathurst’s likely impact on Canterbury mudfish habitat. Yet this advice, along with Bathurst’s history of environmental offending, was ignored by the Overseas Investment Office who carelessly decided to give them permission to expand their activities," says Ms Snoyink.
Bathurst had previously received 27 abatement notices from Environment Canterbury, and now have a conviction and an $18,000 fine.
“No one should be surprised by Bathurst’s recent conviction, yet they continue to be given the go ahead to trash our country and our wildlife. Letting them continue to operate is the equivalent of handing the keys back to a drunk driver," says Ms Snoyink.
"Bathurst currently holds a number of OIO approvals to own sensitive land. There is no question they have failed the OIO's good character test, and should be shown the door. The Government should be demanding answers from the OIO, and making sure Bathurst is never again allowed to destroy what New Zealanders most love about our country – our environment."