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

Gordon Campbell:
On The Inadequate Response To Sexual Violence Prevention

On combatting sexual violence, the government has finally begun to undo some of the problems that were of its own making. Early in March, ACC launched the Integrated Services for Sensitive Claims scheme – a package aimed at improving the attitudes of ACC staff towards sexual violence victims, and offering them more substantive support.

Hopefully, this will help to reverse the damage done with the insensitive, punitive ACC policy put in place by the incoming Key government in 2009, which in some parts of New Zealand, saw 90 per cent of sexual violence victims being turned away by ACC. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

"To Help Families Get Ahead": April 1 Changes Kick In

Prime Minister John Key says Paid Parental Leave, the parental tax credit, the minimum wage and Superannuation will increase, while average ACC levies will fall, and more people will be helped in to home ownership... More>>

ALSO:

Climate: Ministers Exclude Emissions From ‘Environment Reporting'

The National Party Government has today revealed that the national environmental report topics for this year will, incredibly, exclude New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

No Retrial: Freedom At Last For Teina Pora

The Māori Party is relieved that the Privy Council has cleared the final legal hurdle for Teina Pora who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to prison for 22 years. More>>

ALSO:

Germanwings Crash: Privacy Act Supports Aviation Safeguards In New Zealand

Reports that German privacy laws may have contributed to the Germanwings air crash have prompted New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner to reassure the public that the Privacy Act is no impediment to medical practitioners notifying appropriate authorities to a pilot’s health concerns. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty: Taranaki Iwi Ngāruahine Settles Treaty Claims For $67.5mln

The settlement includes a $13.5 million payment the government made in June 2013, as well as land in the Taranaki region. The settlement also includes four culturally significant sites, the Waipakari Reserve, Te Kohinga Reserve, Te Ngutu o te Manu and Te Poho o Taranaki. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Funeral In Asia, The Northland By-Election, And News Priorities

Supposedly, New Zealand’s destiny lies in Asia, and that was one of Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s rationales for his bungled reforms at MFAT. OK. So, if that’s the case why didn’t Prime Minister John Key attend the state funeral on Sunday of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew? More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire: Not Flag-Waving; Flag-Drowning

The panel choosing the flag options has no visual artists at all. Now, I’ve kerned the odd ligature in my time and I know my recto from my French curve so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions before they get past their depth. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news