Coal miner Solid Energy has been granted consents by Environment Waikato enabling it to progress an extension to underground coal mining at Huntly.
Solid Energy plans to extend mining into part of its operations known as the Huntly North Project.
After joint hearings with Waikato District Council last month, Environment Waikato’s independent commissioners Jim Howland and Arthur Hinds found on behalf of the regional council that implementing Solid Energy’s plans would not threaten the environment significantly.
Regional council consents, permits or permit changes were required to:
- construct a 280 metre ventilation shaft
- deposit excavated soil or cleanfill on to land
- intercept and take groundwater from the project mine
- allow the mine water to be discharged into the Kimihia wetland.
Agreeing to Solid Energy’s applications, the commissioners found for Environment Waikato that the activity was not contrary to any relevant plans or policies, the activity was consistent with the purpose and principles of the Resource Management Act and that “the activity will have no more than minor actual or potential adverse effects on the environment”.
But the commissioners also said Solid Energy, the regional and district councils, and other relevant parties would need to work together to deal with the effects of land subsidence.
The commissioners’ report praised Solid Energy’s “thorough consultation” with potentially affected parties prior to, and at, the hearing.
“We note…the willingness of Solid Energy to meet all of the councils’ and submitters’ reasonable requests [and] requirements,” the report said.