Category Archives: submissions

The Government Is Trying To Classify Protests At Sea As Terrorism – Submit By Friday

There have been many famous seaborne protests in New Zealand’s history. Some of them – like the Moruroa ship visits – were even organised by the Government of the day. But the current National Government is trying to classify ship-borne protests as terrorism, and we only have until this Friday to say “No!”

Why should a group campaigning against new and expanded coal mines care about that? Although protests against nuclear ship visits might come to mind first when we think of seaborne protests – and indeed, the Government appears to be rushing this Bill through in advance of a planned US warship visit – New Zealnd has also seen seaborne protests against oil exploration and coal shipments in recent years. Continue reading

Of Monkeys, Mr Burns, Mokau South and the RMA

As The Simpsons taught us, if you give enough monkeys enough typewriters and enough time, they will eventually produce Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”, or a pretty close approximation:

I can now add a rider: even if the cruel Mr Burns introduced zero-hours contracts, removed half the typewriters and banned bananas from the workplace, the monkeys would still produce work of better quality than Mokau South Resources’ application to strip-mine the Mokau River catchment for coal.

It beggars belief that, as the world’s hottest year ends and another hot year begins, anyone would even consider opening a new coal mine. It beggars still more belief that an application that fails to meet so many of the requirements of the Resource Management Act would be allowed to get to the point where it will be seriously considered.

But what’s even more incredible is that the Resource Management Act explicitly prevents us challenging fossil fuel projects on the basis of their contribution to climate change – and in case you think we’re having a go at National yet again, that explicit exclusion of climate change from the RMA was a decision by the last Labour Government. Thankfully, there are now moves afoot to remedy this, not least by the RMA’s author.

Even without the use of this key argument, however, there are so many things wrong with Mokau South’s application and their plans that the many people who responded to our call for submissions had plenty of arguments to choose from: such as the complete inadequacy of the applicant’s ecological assessment, their failure to carry the required iwi consultation, and their cavalier attitude to the effects mine effluent can have in a major water catchment.

In its story on Mokau South, Radio New Zealand chose to portray the Sampson brothers, who are behind this application, as dear old duffers who just wanted their lifetime dream of owning their own coal mine to be granted. But that’s not a thing anyone should want on their bucket list. There is nothing cute, funny or touching about people who want to rip apart an area of regenerating native bush and put a major water catchment at risk just so they can have a crack at making climate change even more disastrous.

So thanks to everyone who submitted by the closing date of 2 February. When we know the story with the hearing on this application, we’ll keep you posted. Although the Mokau South resource consent application reads like it was typed by a roomful of monkeys, the threat it poses is serious, and with our friends in groups such as Waikato Climate Action and Climate Justice Taranaki, we’ll be putting in serious work to stop it.

Don’t Take Our Word For How Bad Mokau South Is – Take Waikato Regional Council’s Word. And Submit By Next Tuesday.

Submissions on Mokau South’ Resources’ proposal to strip-mine the Panirau Plateau in the Mokau River Catchment for coal close next Tuesday, 2 February. We have had a good response to our call for submissions against the project, but we’d love to see even more.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

Some people have said they don’t have time to make a long submission – and that’s fair enough, as we know how busy people are! Your submission doesn’t have to be long, but we think its is important to meet the formal requirements laid out in the submission guide. And here’s why.

Climate Change, the RMA, and Grounds for Submissions

The applicant, Mokau South Resources, was unhappy at the idea that their resource consent application might be publicly notified. They asked why this was being done, and Waikato Regional Council’s scanned response is very revealing of both the scale of the project and the applicants’ attitude:



So there we have it: the project is massive, in an environmentally sensitive area, in a river catchment with high annual rainfall, and the applicants want to avoid a fight on climate change grounds!

Unfortunately, on this last point, the Resource Management Act as it is currently worded is with the applicant: it explicitly excludes consideration of the effects of a project on climate change. A movement is underway to put climate change back in the RMA, but in the meantime, a submission that only mentions climate change can be “struck out for disclosing no relevant case”. That’s appalling, but it’s the law.

(However, some arguments related to climate change can still be made – our submission guide explains how to do that.)

So that’s why we encourage submitters to put in a submission that can’t be struck out, because it refers to the many, many other environmental and economic grounds on which the project is a bad idea. Our submission guide (Word | PDF) provides you with plenty of talking points. Pick one or pick just a few, and make your submission as brief as you like: but please do submit. And once you’ve included grounds that ensure your submission can’t be struck out, we encourage you to state clearly which this project is a terrible idea on climate change grounds.

Mordor on the Mokau

Finally, this Radio New Zealand story provides more information about the applicants and their proposal. It makes them sound like a couple of dear old duffers pursuing their lifelong dream. It’s just a pity that their lifelong dream involves ruining an important natural environment and trashing the world’s climate.


The Coal Industry Wants To Strip Mine The Mokau. Help Us Stop Them.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

As NASA has confirmed, 2015 was the hottest year on record. So the idea of starting any new coal mine represents a dangerous disconnection with reality. But sometimes, we come across a proposal that has that whole extra level of insanity.


Many years ago, before the Resource Management Act came into force, Mokau South Resources was granted a mining licence for an area of regenerating native bush on the Panirau Plateau near the Panirau Stream, a tributary of the Mokau River on the North Taranaki Coast. Their current permit expires in 2016.

So now, despite the state of the coal market and the imperative need not to increase greenhouse gas emissions, Mokau South Resources has applied to Waikato Regional Council for resource consent to strip mine a large area near the Panirau Stream. That’s a terrible idea on climate change grounds. It’s also a terrible idea for the natural environment in North Taranaki and the Waikato.

Coal companies around the world are crashing. China’s coal use has declined and the Chinese Government has banned new coal mines. And the Paris Agreement has signalled the end of the fossil fuel era. But here in New Zealand, while the Government tips them a nod and a wink, the coal industry keeps trying to dig up more of the stuff. They must be stopped.

How To Submit

Submissions on this project close on Tuesday 2 February – so you don’t have long. Working with Waikato Climate Action, we’ve prepared a submission guide (Word | PDF) with many different reasons for objecting to this proposal, and we’d like as many people as possible to submit. You’ll find all the details of how to submit in the guide. You can also read the official Waikato Regional Council information on this application.

Let’s send Waikato Regional Council and the coal industry an unambiguous message: no more new coal mines, no more increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and no more destruction of our natural habitat for the sake of private profit.

  • Get started on your Mokau South submission now with our downloadable submission guide (Word | PDF)


One Woman Stood Up To Fonterra. Now You Can Follow Her Example.

Selva J. Calvi stands up to Fonterra in Whangarei

Selva J. Calvo stands up to Fonterra in Whangarei

This is Selva. Along with nearly 3000 other New Zealanders, she is concerned that while the coal industry is in retreat around the world, here in New Zealand Fonterra is rapidly expanding its use of coal and propping up some of the nation’s most destructive coal companies, like Bathurst Resources, by doing so.

So Selva did something. She went to the venue of a Fonterra shareholders’ meeting and made a public stand against Fonterra’s coal-fired expansion plans – plans that, if carried out, will make climate change worse and more destructive.

We salute Selva and others who took a stand against Fonterra at their nationwide series of shareholders’ meetings last week. But you can take a stand against Fonterra too – and you don’t have to get out in public to do so.

All you have to do is tell Environment Canterbury you don’t want Fonterra to build two dirty new coal boilers at its Studholme plant in South Canterbury, when they could be installing wood-fired boilers instead, using waste wood from forestry operations.

You can make a quick submission using this form. Make sure you say you are opposed to all 8 resource consent applications – they are all part of the same plan.

And if you need more information, check out our Quick Submission Guide (Word |PDF), where you’ll find plenty of great arguments to use.

PS: Submissions close on Friday 27 November at 5pm – don’t wait till it’s too late!



Submit Now On Fonterra’s Proposed Coal-Fired Studholme Dairy Factory Expansion

2777 people signed our open letter with Action Station asking Fonterra to pledge “no new coal boilers” and progressively switch their old coal boilers to wood. But Fonterra are refusing to listen, and they are pressing ahead with plans to build two new coal-fired boilers as part of their Studholme plant expansion in South Canterbury.

Fonterra have said that up to 20% of biomass could be used in their new boilers, meaning at least 80% of the fuel would be coal – but their resource consent application makes it clear that coal is their preferred option.

Waimate locals and Coal Action Network activists make their statement in front of Fonterra's Studholme plant

Waimate locals and Coal Action Network activists make their statement in front of Fonterra’s Studholme plant

Fonterra love to trade on New Zealand’s “clean and green” image. They don’t want the world to know that their coal use has increased 38% since 2008. Yet rather than do something real about the problem by using wood waste instead of coal to fuel their new boilers, they prefer to bully their way through and hope no-one will notice.

But Fonterra needs resource consent for the planned expansion of its Studholme plant – and because that resource consent application has been publicly notified, you get the chance to tell Fonterra that in 2015, increasing our dependence on coal and our greenhouse gas emissions just isn’t on.

Please download and read our Quick Submission Guide (Word | PDF) and then submit now against Fonterra’s planned coal-fired Studholme expansion.  (Note: All 8 of the resource consent applications listed on this form relate to the Studholme expansion, so it’s simplest to choose all of them.)

Submissions close at 5pm on Friday 27 November – but why wait? Get your submission in today! And if you have any questions about the submissions process, please contact us on

Fair Shares – or Excuses, Excuses?

Jeanette Fitzsimons wrote this post as she worked on her submission to the Government’s just-completed climate change target consultation process.

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Like hundreds of New Zealanders I went to one of the Government’s consultation meetings (Hamilton, where there were 70 people) on what our climate change target should be in Paris this year. Now I’m wresting with their Discussion Document as I write my submission to the process.

The document suggests we should do “our fair share” – hardly a goal anyone could disagree with – until you read the caveat “in light of our unique national circumstances”. There follows a pathetic list of excuses for why we should do much less than others – a list of special pleadings crying poor me and arguing we are disadvantaged. I am embarrassed that these arguments are being made in our name in international meetings so let’s look at whether they have any merit.

It is hard for us to reduce emissions because we have a lot of agriculture where there aren’t easy options and we supply food to the rest of the world which is important

We have chosen to make our living with dairy farming, and must take responsibility for the consequences. It’s not as though the rest of the world would starve without our dairy products. Most of it now is infant formula, replacing superior breast milk in China so that mothers can go straight back to work. Dairy products are luxury foods. Lower intensity farming with better management of wet soils and use of breeds that emit less methane could at least reduce those emissions.

While we are held accountable for our food exports, we have outsourced most of our manufacturing to China and other places, and considerable industrial emissions with it. We consume those products but are not accountable for their emissions.

Government also persists in supporting conversion of forests to dairy farms by its own LandCorp, showing they are not serious about stopping agricultural emissions growing. Continue reading

Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter October 2012

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If the New Zealand cricket team needs a new spinner to replace Daniel Vettori, they need look no further than mining industry lobby group Straterra. Perhaps because Solid Energy is in a tailspin and the mining industry has been coming under challenge all around the country in recent months, they have chosen to highlight a survey carried out, in somewhat mysterious circumstances, by Pauline Colmar, formerly of survey firm Colmar Brunton, which purports to show strong public support for mining.

However, on closer inspection, the survey was worded along these lines:

Survey company: Would you swim with sharks – if sharks didn’t bite?
Lots of respondents: Yes
Survey customer press release: “Majority of New Zealanders say they love swimming with sharks”
(notice the lack of options here for a respondent to say “hang on, but sharks DO bite”).

There’s more on that survey below. We have also more on Solid Energy’s troubles and their future plans; more on the forthcoming Powershift conference in December and 2013 Summer Festival in January; and the latest news on Denniston legal action.

Check out our international section that discusses the links between climate change and the horrific “Superstorm Sandy” in the US this week. Our thoughts are with the families of the people who died,  from the Caribbean to the US and Canada, and with those suffering in the devastation Sandy left in its wake. Continue reading

The Mt William North Hearings: Ignorance, Intimidation, and Elephants

Sharon McGarry thinks carbon dioxide makes holes in the ozone layer.

No, not a year nine science student but a commissioner; one of three in Westport recently entrusted with the task of unravelling the scientific and economic data pertinent to the next mountaintop removal on the Stockton Plateau –Mt William North.

The realisation that Ms McGarry did not have even a basic grasp of the science behind climate change was a shock, but the whole experience of submitting at this council hearing was a series of curious events.

I was at the Westport Bridge Club to speak to my submission opposing Solid Energy’s proposal to mine 5.4 million tonnes of new coal at Mt William. If mined, this coal will send approximately 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, widen even more the gap between reality and our international emissions obligations, further shred our clean green image, and destroy more endangered flora and fauna on the plateau.

Less than two weeks before the hearing submitters received a letter telling us that, due to the recent Environment Court declaration, the commissioners were “not able to have regard to any evidence or submissions concerning the effects on climate change of discharges into air arising from the subsequent burning of coal.”

Yes, that’s right, our supreme environmental statute, the RMA, is legally unable to consider the greatest environmental threat facing humanity; climate change. Even though this ruling is under appeal the commissioners chose not to delay the Mt William hearing.

Some of us still spoke about climate change, understanding it would be ignored. We also talked about ocean acidification, another effect of CO2 emissions not ruled out in the commissioner’s letter. With a wave of her arm Ms McGarry dismissed such talk: “We all know CO2 makes holes in the ozone”. After a short silence of disbelief it became clear that ocean acidification was also going to be banned, along with climate change. Curious how the rules appeared to change as the day progressed.

Curious too, was the presence of 20 or so Solid Energy workers in the back of the room dressed in orange safety gear and boots. They looked a little out of place accepting tea and bikkies from the lovely Bridge Club lady.

Then again, those of us opposing the proposal had brought our own curious sight – an elephant, sitting in the front row taking notes, dreads tied neatly back. At lunchtime he stood outside the entrance with a placard “Say NO to New Coal Extraction” while an orange-coated ‘worker’ shovelled coal under a carpet and a large banner explained to passers by and to the orange-garbed Solid Energy workers: “Climate Change is the Elephant in the Room”.

Standing nearby taking photographs was yet another curious sight – a dark suited character straight out of an American crime show. It turned out he worked for ProVision, also called Thompson and Clark Investigations Ltd, the agency caught out in 2007 for planting spies in the ranks of the Happy Valley protesters – paid for by Solid Energy: see

Opposers to Solid Energy’s application had been allocated the whole day to speak. We represented individuals and groups, locals and ‘outsiders’, whitebaiters, grandmothers, doctors and environmentalists.

I did not get my turn until the following morning. By then the workers in their safety gear had gone, replaced by Solid Energy’s demurely attired ecologist. No shady character outside. It seemed the commissioners needed only hear one more ‘pesky’ environmentalist, then get back to business. I had come 700 km to speak on behalf of myself and two other submitters, but the commissioners wanted to dismiss my second and third submissions without even hearing them. After I finished, as I left the room I could see it being cosily re-arranged so the Commissioners and their “friends” could finish the hearing in a more informal setting.

Then it was the local councils’ turn. I don’t hold out much hope for the councils; they don’t seem to take climate change that seriously. New developments are permitted at sea level all along the Coast. The Regional Council’s own fancy new building at Greymouth appears to rely on a few sand dunes to combat sea level rise.

The next day I visited Mordor (Stockton) itself, stood on black sludge 30 metres below where Mt Augustus should have been – mountaintop removal, Kiwi style. I looked over to Happy Valley, now renamed the Cypress Extension in an attempt to erase its colourful history of protest. The contrast between that untouched valley, the mountain beyond, and the hell below my feet was distressing. The land reclamation is a joke. Up there, anything at an angle greater than 16 degrees gets washed away. You can’t put a mountain back.

Beyond Happy Valley sat Mt William. Mt William, the next mountain top removal project. Or not? Will Sharon McGarry save the day?

– Rosemary Penwarden.

Check out images of the protest at the hearing – including the elephant!

Do You Want Mining Companies To Have Easier Access To Your Land?

The Government is currently reviewing the Crown Minerals Act 1991, and submissions on the review close on Friday 20 April. We think it’s a good idea for as many people as possible to submit on this review – so, if making submissions is your thing, this is a good thing to submit on.

Why? Well, to address the headline issue first, there have been suggestions that the Government plans to use this review to water down or even remove the provisions in the Crown Minerals Act that currently give private landowners the right to refuse mining companies access to their land. We think this might be quite an unpopular change, not least with farmers.

But there are other, wider matters worth commenting on, as outlined in the excellent submission guide on the Green Party blog at – the following bullet points come from the Green Party submission guide:

  • Currently the Crown Minerals Act allows the Government to grant permits for deep sea oil drilling. We suggest amending the Crown Minerals Act to prohibit permits for prospecting, exploration and production of oil in waters greater than 200 metres deep. Deep sea oil drilling is too risky.
  • Under the Crown Minerals Act, the Government grants permits for oil and gas exploration that allow companies to use the controversial practice of fracking – pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep into the earth in order to extract oil and gas. Please tell the Government that oil and gas exploration permits should not allow fracking until the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment can assure the public it is safe.
  • Mining and extraction has adverse effects on landforms, oceans, waterways and ecosystems. It is currently prohibited in National Parks and various other types of reserve, but under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 it occurs contentiously in other parts of the conservation estate. Tell the Government to amend the Crown Minerals Act to prohibit new exploration, prospecting and mining on conservation land and reserves.

The Green Party submission guide lists many more aspects of the review that you can comment on, and tells you the ways that you can make a submission. Here is some further information:

Submissions due: 5pm Friday 20 April 2012

Postal address: Resources Policy Group, Ministry of Economic Development, PO Box 1473, Wellington 6140

There are a series of review questions that the Ministry is asking for feedback on, and of particular interest is Chapter 2: Health, safety and environmental (HSE) matters. It is a fairly short chapter to read and worth giving feedback on! Also of interest are Chapter 4: Petroleum, and Chapter 5: Tier 1 Minerals, especially the review questions relating to HSE matters.