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December 7, 2020
Court of Appeal

Seabed mining appeal reaches Supreme Court

On 17-19 November 2020 David Bullock of LeeSalmonLong represented Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Greenpeace in the Supreme Court, along with Davey Salmon and Duncan Currie.  KASM and Greenpeace were amongst those that successfully challenged the granting of consent to Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) to mine the seabed off the South Taranaki coast.  TTR appealed the Court of Appeal judgment upholding the earlier decision quashing a consent.

The appeal raises significant issues of public interest including the correct approach to assessing environmental impacts, the precautionary principle, and the correct approach to recognition of tikanga and customary law under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.  

TTR was granted consents to mine the South Taranaki Bight by a Decision-Making Committee (DMC) of the Environmental Protection Authority under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012. The decision to grant the consents was appealed by KASM and Greenpeace, as well as iwi, fisheries companies and other conservation organisations.

The High Court allowed the appeals, quashing the DMC’s decision having found that the DMC had made an error of law in coming to its decision, and referring the matter back to the DMC. The Court of Appeal allowed TTR’s appeal, but also allowed the cross-appeals of KASM and Greenpeace (and others), quashing the consent on the basis of several different errors of law.

TTR obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the appeal should be granted and the decision of the DMC be reinstated.

The decision of the Court of Appeal can be read here