Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Right Decision – Wrong Reasons

PRESS RELEASE
25 February 2013

Right Decision – Wrong Reasons

Members of Canterbury Coal Action were this weekend celebrating the decision of Solid Energy to abandon its lignite projects near Mataura in Southland. But it’s not a simple “win” for the campaigners.

“We’re delighted that this decision means that millions of tonnes of coal will not be exploited,” said spokesperson Dr. Rachel Eyre of Christchurch. “It means less carbon dioxide emissions, less local health issues, less pollution in the air and the waterways. And of course, less upheaval for the local communities. So that’s great news.”

When the decision was announced by Solid Energy it was as part of a review of their business after the company was found to be $389 million in debt. The low demand for coal world wide has meant that prices have fallen and Solid Energy couldn’t pay its debts. The projects at Mataura were considered “not core business” and so are to be stopped.

“Solid Energy would like us all to think that this decision is based on a rational economic appraisal of the situation,” said Dr. Eyre. “But in fact they need to admit that lignite is a very poor quality coal, their potential business partners have all pulled out, and they have a lot of opposition in the local communities.”

Dr. Eyre visited Southland last month and spent time with some of the people who would have been affected if the projects had gone ahead. “It was upsetting to see people whose homes and communities would have been terribly affected if all this had been allowed to proceed. The talk of jobs being created was viewed as a joke – most of the jobs and money would have gone overseas, but locals would have had to contend with the mess, noise and pollution. We’ve heard from several people from Australia who have seen big miners come in and cause havoc for no local benefit.”

Dr. Eyre explained that Southland was an agricultural community which relied on farmland, clean water and a “clean green” image among its customers. “A large opencast lignite mine here would have been a disaster.”

Dr. Eyre admitted she was concerned that some of the “spin” from Solid Energy around the announcement showed that they still hadn’t really understood their situation in spite of losing millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs and their CEO Don Elder. “It looks like the culture of spin at Solid Energy runs deeper than just Don Elder,” said Dr. Eyre. “They are trying to imply that the company got into trouble because of its investments in renewable energy. That’s nonsense – the cost of coal has fallen, but renewable energy companies like Meridian are still profitable. Renewables are the future, whilst coal is a sunset industry.”

The Government is left with an embarrassing problem on its hands because Solid Energy is a state owned enterprise and it is currently valued at less than its’ debt. It has fallen a long way since it was tipped to be part of the asset sales programme. “Currently the Government couldn’t give it away. No one, in New Zealand or overseas, would want to invest in projects like these – they were based on misplaced belief in technologies like carbon capture and storage and a denial of the realities of climate change.” Dr. Eyre explained that in the future, Governments will need to put an effective price on carbon “not the ridiculously weak ETS we have now,” and that will inevitably raise costs still further.

“From Invercargill to China we are seeing a move away from coal – it’s a dirty fuel of the past. Biomass, wind, solar, hydro, and tidal are the energy sources of the future. New Zealand has a great opportunity to be in near the beginning of the renewables boom. Solid Energy can be part of that exciting future and we hope that the decision to abandon the Mataura lignite idea is a positive step in the right direction.”

It’s certainly great news for the communities in Southland and for the campaigners at Canterbury Coal Action.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Anzac Issue Out Now: Werewolf 47

Alison McCulloch: Lest We Remember

Local iwi have plans to spruce up the Te Ranga site as part of the 150th commemorations this year of key battles in the “New Zealand Wars”, but not a lot of money to do it with.

Information gathered from numerous government agencies shows that while more than $25 million is being spent on monuments and commemorations relating to foreign wars, primarily World War I and its centenary, only around $250,000 has been set aside for those fought on our own soil. More>>

Anne Russell: Anzac Day - Identity Politics, With Guns

Even cursory research into media reports from the past forty years reveals a cultural shift in the commemoration of Anzac Day. Among other things, turnout at Dawn services has increased significantly in recent decades.

Contemporary numbers are estimated at 3,000-4,000 in Wellington, and 10,000-15,000 in Auckland. Newspaper reports from the 1970s and 80s estimated Wellington turnouts at 300-800, and Auckland at anywhere from 600 to 4,000. More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Spookwatch: New Inspector-General Of Intelligence And Security Appointed

Prime Minister John Key hasannounced the appointment of Cheryl Gwyn as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The appointment was made by the Administrator of the Government on behalf of the Governor General and is for a term of three years. More>>

Crowdsourcing: Green Party Launches Internet Rights And Freedoms Bill

The Green Party has today launched the Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill, New Zealand’s first ever Bill crowdsourced by a political party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Shane Jones Departure

Shane Jones has left Parliament in the manner to which we have become accustomed, with self interest coming in first and second, and with the interests of the Labour Party (under whose banner he served) way, way back down the track. More>>

COMMENT:

Multimedia: PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - April 22 2014

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • The recent improvement in the economy with a growing job market • Income and wealth inequality • Easter trading laws • The New Zealander killed in a drone strike in Yemen... More>>

ALSO:

Easter Trading: Workers 'Can Kiss Goodbye To Easter Sunday Off'

The Government’s decision to “reprioritise” scarce labour inspector resources by abandoning the enforcement of Easter Sunday Shop Trading laws means workers can kiss goodbye to a guaranteed day off, says Labour’s Associate Labour Issues spokesperson Darien Fenton. More>>

ALSO:

ACT Don't Go For Maximum Penalty: Three Strikes For Burglary, Three Years Jail

Three strikes for burglary was introduced to England and Wales in 1999. As in New Zealand, burglary was out of control and given a low priority by the police and the courts. A Labour government passed a three strikes law whereby a third conviction for burglaries earned a mandatory three years in prison... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Drone Strikes And Judith Collins‘ Last Stand

The news that a New Zealand citizen was killed last November in a US drone attack in Yemen brings the drones controversy closer to home. More>>

ALSO:

Elections: New Electorate Boundaries Finalised

New boundaries for the country’s 64 General and seven Māori electorates have been finalised – with an additional electorate created in Auckland. More>>

ALSO:

Policies: Labour’s Economic Upgrade For Manufacturing

Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today announced his Economic Upgrade for the manufacturing sector – a plan that will create better jobs and higher wages. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Life And ACC Work Of Sir Owen Woodhouse

With the death of Sir Owen Woodhouse, the founding father of the Accident Compensation Scheme, New Zealand has lost one of the titans of its post-war social policy. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news