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Forest and Bird appeals Cypress mine decision

12 July 2004 - Christchurch

Forest and Bird appeals Cypress mine decision

Forest and Bird today announced its intention to appeal the decision by West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council to give the go-ahead to a destructive and polluting opencast coal mine near Westport.

"If the Cypress coal mine is allowed to go ahead, it will destroy hundreds of hectares of red tussock grasslands, wetlands, shrublands and beech forest" said Forest and Bird Field Officer Tony Lockwood. "This is prime habitat for great spotted kiwi and an endangered giant snail species."

"The proposed mine would further pollute the Mangatini Stream and Ngakawau Rivers that already run black from the effects of operations at the nearby Stockton coal mine," he said.

"It is extraordinary that Solid Energy is allowed to open a new mine in the upper Waimangaroa Valley given the massive destruction and pollution from its existing mine at Stockton," he said.

"The proposed mine is contrary to the Government's objectives of saving threatened plants and animals and addressing climate change," he said.

"At the same time as the government is implementing international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Kyoto agreement and spending millions of dollars a year through the Department of Conservation to halt the decline in New Zealand's biodiversity, one of its own companies plans to open up a massive new opencast coal mine and destroy prime kiwi habitat", Mr Lockwood said.

NOTES:

The cypress mine is proposed for the Upper Waimangaroa Valley, between Denniston and Granity in the Buller District of the West Coast.

Solid Energy proposed new mine would result in: * A total disturbed area of about 400 rugby fields. This involves the removal of native beech forest and red tussock grassland for two opencast pits covering 105 ha and over another 100 ha for disposal of overburden, haul roads, office and workshop space. * Diversion of natural creeks and streams around the mine site. * Discharge of poorly treated mine water to St Pats Stream. Discharge conditions do not meet internationally accepted standards for water quality. * Destruction of Great Spotted Kiwi and endangered giant land snail habitat.

It is a strikingly beautiful area with unique landforms and rare plant communities surrounded by conservation lands. The only reason the valley itself has not been protected, in spite of repeated recommendations that it should be, is because of very strong lobbying by the coal mining industry in the past. Students and their supporters camped in the area at Easter to protest the proposal to mine the area.

The commissioner's decision to grant resource consents was released on 18 June following hearings in Westport on 3-7 May.

In March of this year Solid Energy admitted publicly to a poor environmental record

ENDS

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