In the wake of the Government’s commonsense decision to allow opencast coal mining on the Denniston Plateau, it was no surprise that the greenie lobby would scream betrayal.
The mining will occur on conservation land – a title that means not much except that no-one lives there, and no-one wants to.
The mine will occupy less than 5 per cent of the total Denniston conservation area, which doesn’t have national park status.
More importantly, the approval granted to Australian miners Bathurst Resources will create more than 400 jobs, rejuvenate an emaciated economy and add some extraneous conservation measures like a 35-kilometre predator fence. In short, it’s a win-win.
Not so, shouts the green faction – supported by the Labour Party nay-sayers. The latter are simply in anti mode – the psychological pit that you can get into when in opposition for too long. In government, they would have done this deal in a heartbeat.
They call out for jobs, yet have opposed pretty much every job creation project in the last four and a half years.
No, the real saboteurs here – the real betrayers – are the environmentalists. For too long their selfish sentiments have robbed New Zealanders of projects and jobs.
Their only answer is that huge sectors of New Zealand should stay as they are because they have always been like that. They oppose any and all extractive industries – from coal to oil to mining – anything that has the potential to endanger their utopian nothingness.
Indeed, the pervasive theme that emanated from the Denniston greenies this past week – including the increasingly hysterical Forest and Bird Society – is that coal is bad. Evil, even.
This mine could have been located in an industrial wasteland – they still would have objected.
That is a key point. They are not opposed to mining in certain areas. They oppose mining everywhere and anywhere. They have a quasi-religious belief that it is wrong to extract minerals from the Earth.
In fact, the quality of the Denniston product is amazing. Even at the current depressed prices, the project makes financial sense to Bathurst Resources because of that quality. Most of it will go straight to China – to fuel its staggering growth and provide energy for its latest power station and steel developments.
For the greenies to try to halt China’s almost linear expansion, by trying to derail this West Coast project, makes King Canute look like a veritable sage by comparison.
The coast has been mining high quality coal for well over a century – if it doesn’t provide such fuel, then another country and economy will.
Meanwhile, there will be a shiver of upset in some urban liberal quarters that such mining occurs. Their best collective idea is not to export coal – but to export Kiwis. To any economy that offers jobs, because neither the West Coast – nor New Zealand for that matter – offers sufficient skilled manual work.
So the greenies will do what their Pavlovian urges demand. They will clog the courts with their useless petitions to try to delay, obfuscate and upset. Knowing that they don’t have any legal chance of upsetting Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s decision.
They will even parade New Zealand overseas as some sort of environmental pariah.
And that is sabotage of the worst sort – if they can’t get their way then they will attempt to bring the whole house down. They must be condemned as the irrational zealots that they are.
The challenge for those opposed to mining at Denniston, is can they point to a single mine in NZ that they do support?