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Government must protect Happy Valley wetlands

1 February 2008

Government must act to protect Happy Valley wetlands

The Green Party is urging the Government to put a stop to Solid Energy's folly in attempting to destroy one of New Zealand's last remaining alpine wetlands.

This week sees the two year anniversary of the occupation of Happy Valley, in a valiant and thus far successful bid to stop the proposed Cypress Mine, making it the longest environmental occupation in New Zealand's history.

"As the dedicated Happy Valley activists mark the second anniversary of the occupation, and set off on a nationwide walk to raise awareness of climate change, I ask the Government to put conservation ahead of commercial considerations," Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Given some of the dire warnings in yesterday's State of the Environment report, the Government must see fit to reexamine it's commitment to coal mining.

"It is shameful that the Government - which professes an aspiration to carbon neutrality, and is a signatory to the International Convention on Biological Diversity - gives coal mining an exemption from the RMA, essentially subsidising a land use that is destroying both our biodiversity and our climate.

"Around 90% of New Zealand's wetlands are already drained or filled - Happy Valley is one of few remaining alpine wetlands. Tomorrow is World Wetlands Day, which provides the Government with a wonderful opportunity to permanently protect these pristine native wetlands, which are home to at least thirteen endangered species.

"No matter which way we look at it, coal is a dying industry. The value to the region, the nation and the economy would be sustained for a far greater time as a tourist attraction than as a coal mine.

"I congratulate the Save Happy Valley Coalition for sustaining their continuous occupation, despite being targeted by the ridiculous police terrorism raids and Solid Energy's clumsy attempts at espionage, and wish them all the best for the future. It is a tribute to those involved that they have maintained such commitment and creativity in their campaign. We will continue to support their campaign as best we can until Solid Energy backs off and abandons their plans to destroy this unique habitat," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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