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Snails lose in High Court

Snails lose in High Court

9/12/06

Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE USE

The Save Happy Valley Coalition Inc says its loss in the High Court on Friday is a blow for conservation, but that the battle to save a critically-endangered snail is by no means over.

The group took the Ministers of Conservation and Energy to court over their decision to allow 94% of the habitat of Powelliphanta “Augustus” – one of New Zealand’s species of giant land snails – to be destroyed by an opencast coal mine near Westport. The Judicial Review, heard in the Wellington High Court on Wednesday, challenged the process by which that decision was made.

“The judgment on Friday was that the Ministers were allowed to make the decision that they did – not that it was necessarily the right decision. The Royal Society of New Zealand Biodiversity Committee and Department of Conservation scientists recommended that the snails be left in their mountain top home. It’s only the Government, and it’s coal company Solid Energy, that disagree with that,” says Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated spokesperson Alex Winter-Billington.

The group also took a case in the Environment Court, arguing that New Zealand’s main environmental law, the RMA, should also apply to coal mining license land, and that state-owned coal company Solid Energy is not avoiding, remedying or mitigating adverse environmental effects. The judgement for that case is pending. In its interim decision, the Court stated that "there is little doubt that from the scientific and environmental point of view, the snail should not be moved".

Ends

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