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'It's the habitat, stupid': Fitzsimons

21 June 2004

'It's the habitat, stupid': Fitzsimons

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the approval of the Cypress Mine means a unique kiwi habitat will be replaced with a huge hole in the ground and no amount of "environmental best practice" can hide that fact.

The mining company, state-owned Solid Energy, has said it plans to re-establish threatened kiwi and giant land snails Powelliphanta elsewhere.

"It's the habitat, stupid," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Conservation and Energy Spokesperson.

"Conservation is not simply about creating proxy zoos for popular animals - the entire habitat has to be protected. If threatened and unique species could survive anywhere, they wouldn't be at risk.

"Happy Valley is a pristine habitat of rare red tussock where native species have lasted because predators have not reached it. You cannot recreate that. Kiwi have been bought to the brink of extinction by habitat extinction, you can't simply pick them up and stick them somewhere else and expect them to prosper.

"Solid Energy's environmental record is very poor, so few would share the approving councils' faith that they will deliver what they promise when it comes to mitigating the effects of this dumb idea. For instance, the Stockton Mine immediately adjacent to the proposed Cypress pits has already turned the Ngakawau River into an industrial sewer.

"Solid Energy's record on meeting the wishes of local people is also not good. Their stated commitment to hold annual consultation on the Cypress mine's effects are just window-dressing. Once a consent is issued, community groups have no power at all. No amount of meetings will change the fact that a huge hole is being dug in a unique valley.

"This mine will be bad for the West Coast, bad for New Zealand and bad for the planet. The West Coast will suffer poisoned rivers and its economy will continue to be locked into its dig, chop and kill history. New Zealand will lose a home for one of its national symbols and be no closer to the essential switch to renewable energy. The planet will have to bear more climate change when this coal is burnt," said Ms Fitzsimons.

ENDS

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