Author: Patrick Smellie
Attack is rarely the best form of defence for a company seeking both social and environmental licence to operate.
But it seems the managing director of Chatham Rock Phosphate, Chris Castle, has decided enough is enough.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Authority released a 175-page staff report on his company’s plan to mine phosphate nodules on the Chatham Rise, more than 400 kilometres off the coast from Christchurch.
The report is far from the final word on CRP’s marine consent application. It is only an input into the public hearings to be held shortly by an expert decision-making committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA.
But the report’s conclusion that “EPA staff are not currently able to recommend granting this marine consent on the face of CRP’s application as it stands” is a serious blow. A similarly negative EPA staff report is seen to have influenced the rejection in June of an application by Trans Tasman Resources to mine ironsands from the seafloor off the southern Taranaki coast.