The mining site itself will suffer direct impacts from the removal and processing of seabed material which will result in a catastrophic destruction of existing benthos on the seabed in the mining site itself. Recovery will take time and the species mix may be different but we accept the evidence that benthos will recolonise the area and it will recover to perform a similar ecological function (Summary of Decision, para 20, p. xiii)
The physical environment of the STB is challenging, dynamic and complex. It will have a significant influence on how TTRL undertakes its mining operation. It will also have a significant influence on how the project affects the environment, especially the spread and effect of the sediment plume. We consider that TTRL is well aware of the challenges and has incorporated them into its proposed project design (para 931, p.197)
A cultural impact assessment by tangata whenua is good practice for applications such as this and is highly desirable, but it is non a statutory requirement for applications under the Act. The absence of such an assessment in the documentation accompanying the application is not a fatal flaw (para 691, p.152)
Unlike under the RMA, effects on people and communities, amenity values, and social, economic, aesthetic, and cultural conditions are not effects on matters that make up the "environment" for the purposes of the Act.
In our view, however, the DMC should take into account any evidence or information before it about relevant cultural perspectives of effects on the natural environment, alongside scientific or technical information. This would include information about the values that Māori hold in the natural environment, such as values in taonga species or in the mauri of land, water, or other elements of environment." (Memorandum of Counsel Assisting the Decision-Making Committee – Further Response to Minute 40, 17 May 2017, page 20, paragraph 90)