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Snails sold out by State to Solid Energy

Snails sold out by State to Solid Energy

The Green Party has condemned the Government's decision to put commercial considerations ahead of the protection of a highly endangered native species.

"I am appalled that the Government has allowed its own state-owned enterprise, Solid Energy, virtual carte blanche to exterminate a beautiful New Zealand giant snail just to meet coal contracts, Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"What does this really say about the Government's commitment to preserving biodiversivity when it is willing to sell out these snails?

"Worst of all is that there is such a rush to meet these commercial considerations, because Solid Energy has made supply commitments already, that officials will not even wait to see if the snails survive in their new location before their existing habitat is destroyed by a mine.

"There a big questions about whether they can survive the move and flourish in a new location and the least that should be done is to wait to see how they fare," Mrs Turei says.

Solid Energy is being required to collect 250 snails for relocation and a captive breeding programme in exchange for permission to open cast mine the snails' existing home.

"As far as I am aware there has never been a successful captive breeding programme for these snails and if the snails don't survive in the new area chosen for them it will be too late, the species will be gone - crushed in the jaws of the mining machines. Does the Government not realise that extinction is forever?

"The Government's approach to the treatment of endangered species is completely askew. These snails are a protected species under the Wildlife Act but when cash is at stake those considerations go out the window.

"This is particularly galling to all the local people who have been fighting to save the snails, especially Peter Lusk, who has faced threats and intimidation for his commitment.

"To avoid this kind of thing happening in future all prospecting licenses should be preceded by a full environmental evaluation of the location, including the presence of any rare and endangered species," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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