Local community action group Protect Karangahake have announced they are preparing to take the Hauraki District Council and New Talisman Gold Mines to the High Court.
The group will spend the Christmas break preparing to challenge the granting of a resource consent for mining activities made without public notification in the Karangahake Gorge.
Protesters at Crown Hill Bridge show their opposition to the Karangahake Gorge being mined.
Since learning of the resource consent in September the local community has spent hours researching the proposed mining activities.
It has since found evidence that New Talisman’s planned activities will impact not only on the recreational and conservation values of the gorge, but also water quality of the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta Rivers.
Protect Karangahake chair Duncan Shearer says this is not something they will take on lightly.
“This will cost our community dearly, not only in monetary terms, but also in time and energy over this special time of year we would much rather spend with our families,” he says.
“But we can’t stand idly by while our precious Karangahake Mountain is mined again and while the waterways are endangered - the Paeroa town water supply is taken from the Waitawheta River downstream of the mine.”
Duncan says they had hoped the council would have been more proactive in looking after the area’s well-being, or “at least responded adequately to our concerns.”
He adds: “We have been given no answers and little reassurance by council or the company on whether acid leachate could end up in our drinking supply, or how we are going to keep walking up the mountain safely.”
The group are disappointed that it has reached the point of undertaking court proceedings.
In order to minimise court costs for everyone, Protect Karangahake hopes Hauraki council will chose not to defend what was an unsatisfactory process.
The group’s case is supported by the Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ, which has over 80 associated clubs and represents over 17,000 individuals across the country.
FMC president Robin McNeill says these mining activities in the Karangahake Gorge will affect many of its members who regularly enjoy walking and tramping in the area.
“For the Hauraki District Council to exclude us and the rest of the public from the consultation process is unreasonable and undemocratic,” says Robin. “We are happy to be able to support this small group taking on a huge task on behalf of many New Zealanders and international visitors alike.”
Protect Karangahake has also served letters to the company and the council outlining why they are taking action and that legal proceedings will be filed before January 9.