Not long after Protect Karangahake formed as a society in 2014 we began investigating how the non-notified resource consent issued to New Talisman Gold could have occurred.
After numerous legal investigations and assessments Protect Karangahake filed proceedings against New Talisman Gold Mines and the Hauraki District Council in the High Court in January 2015. Protect Karangahake believed the Council had made a mistake by not publicly notifying the Resource Consent Application by New Talisman Gold Ltd. As the Council had already issued the resource consent, Protect Karangahake’s only option to contest that decision was to take a Judicial Review case to the High Court.
Protect Karangahake challenged New Talisman Gold Mines and the Hauraki District Council on two main areas:
- Lack of public notification
- Actual granting of consent
Lack of public notification
Protect Karangahake believed the application for resource consent by New Talisman Gold Ltd to Hauraki District Council should have been notified as the adverse effects are more than minor – these effects include:
- Conservation and recreation impacts
- Aquatic and water quality impacts
- Pedestrian and traffic safety
- Preventing public access to parts of conservation estate
- Amenity impacts
Our legal arguments can be summarised as:
- There was a failure to consider the adverse effects to conservation and recreational values, which are more than minor. This includes sharing tracks with mining trucks, preventing public access to the portal pad, impact on people’s perceptions of naturalness and a desire to have a scenic experience.
- The failure to consider adverse impacts to matters of national importance is more than minor. This concerns the preservation of the natural character of rivers and their margins and enhancement of public access to and along rivers.
- Special circumstances exist and Council should have publicly notified the application or provided reasons for not exercising its discretion. In assessing whether special circumstances exist Council should have considered the high public use of the gorge, the quantity and scale of the bulk sampling compared to the controlled activity threshold in the District Plan and the potential impact to water quality and Paeroa town water supply.
The result we sought from our arguments is that the decision not to notify should be invalid or unlawful.
Actual granting of consent
Protect Karangahake is also challenging the actual granting of the consent itself on similar grounds as the lack of notification decision but also on the grounds that:
- Council failed to consider relevant parts of the Regional Council planning provision; and
- Failed to consider the conservation park status of the land when assessing the receiving environment; and
- Failed to include a consent condition which limited the duration of the consent and the amount of bulk sampling that can occur- while this is set out in the consent itself it is not set out in the consent conditions.
What does this mean?
Protect Karangahake had to show that the Council made an error of law, had regard to irrelevant matters, failed to consider relevant matters, or acted unreasonably. The remedy is that Council had to make the decision again.
What happened next?
On the 10th June 2015 we withdrew our High Court case. This decision was on the recommendation of our lawyers and reflected the increasingly difficult legal challenge facing us.
The legal bar was set high due to several factors including: the District Plan having a bias in favour of mining and because the Judicial Review was not about whether the Council correctly assessed the effects New Talisman’s mining activities will have on our mountain or our community, which it did not, but whether we could prove the Council failed to assess particular aspects in relation to the RMA.
We in no way regret taking legal action against a decision that we felt affected the local community. Since mid 2015 we have established a cordial and productive relationship with the HDC and they have committed to keeping us informed of any future mining consent applications.
For more information read the background information here.