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Back off Solid Energy, ya big bully

18 December 2006

Back off Solid Energy, ya big bully

Minister of Energy David Parker should instruct Solid Energy to desist from applying for costs against the Save Happy Valley Campaign, who recently lost their case against the state-owned company in the Environment Court, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"It is rather ironic that Solid Energy is complaining about the use of taxpayer money on defending itself against a group trying to protect one of New Zealand's most endangered species, when it is a state-owned enterprise destroying the habitat and threatening the existence of the rare Powelliphanta Augustus snail," Mrs Turei says.

"Despite recent 'carbon neutral' rhetoric from the Government, its own SOE is mining coal from both Stockton and Happy Valley; coal that will emit six million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year at peak production. Yet when an organisation tries to defend the fragile environment and species such as the rare snails and kiwi from the destruction of that mining, Solid Energy tries to paint itself as a victim.

"The Minister should make it clear that it is unacceptable for any SOE to set out to punish environmental groups, who are acting on behalf of the community in expressing opposition to their actions. The court process exists to enable challenges to the actions of such companies to test the law and highlight any wrongful actions, and the ability for small groups to do this must be protected.

"The Environment Court actually agreed with Save Happy Valley that Solid Energy's actions are high-risk, but found that there were no tools available to the Court under the Resource Management Act to stop them. This is a critical legal problem that has been exposed by Save Happy Valley, and shows that court actions such as this serve a vital purpose in preserving democracy and transparency.

"The Save Happy Valley Campaign should be applauded, not persecuted, for their work exposing this legal loophole that allows for the destruction of a fragile habitat," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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