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Opposition over proposed coal mine at Happy Valley

Thursday June 10

Save Happy Valley Campaign

Solid opposition expressed over proposed coal mine at Happy Valley

State-owned Solid Energy's proposed opencast coal mine at Happy Valley near Westport has met solid resistance from local and national environmental groups.

They claim the mine will contribute to global warming, cause Acid Mine Drainage (polluting local waterways), destroy great spotted kiwi habitat and 10% of the total habitat of the endangered snail powelliphanta "patrickensis", seriously disrupt ecosystems, and not help supply electricity (the coal is for export).

On Monday June 14, at 7pm, there will be a public meeting entitled "Coal Mining, Energy and the Environment", at Auckland's Trades Hall Building Auditorium (147 Great Nth Rd).

This is designed to alert Aucklanders to this contentious proposal and put the issue into the context of New Zealand's current coal mining and energy issues.

Jonathan Oosterman of the Save Happy Valley Campaign will speak about the proposed mine, Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons will speak on coal mining in New Zealand and alternative energy, and David Pattemore of Forest and Bird will speak on energy conservation.

"The Save Happy Valley Campaign wants to develop public awareness about the proposed mine so that more people will step forward and actively display opposition to it, and to coal-fueled energy generation in general," says Mr Oosterman.

"This is not just a West Coast issue. Climate change and threats to biodiversity are of international importance.

"Spend a night in Happy Valley and listen to the kiwi calling. Then tell me you think their home should be demolished for the sake of a mine.

"Never before has a greenfields mine project been considered when it was known it would destroy 10% of the habitat of a nationally endangered and absolutely protected species, such as the powelliphanta "patrickensis" snail.

"Solid Energy has an atrocious environmental record. Its nearby Stockton mine pollutes both the Mangatini Stream and the lower Ngakawau River with toxic metals from acid mine drainage. Why should we believe that its new mine would be any different?

"Human production of greenhouse gases needs to be reduced by 60 to 80% to avert the dangers of climate change, yet Solid Energy plans to increase coal extraction by more than 50% over the next five years. Such a course of action is simply irresponsible.

"The only sensible course of action for the Government is to instruct state-owned Solid Energy to withdraw the resource consent applications for the mine."

Similar meetings to the one in Auckland have already taken place in Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North, with a good response from audiences. Further meetings are planned throughout the country. An 8 minute video is shown at the meetings, and is available on request.

ENDS

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