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Solid Energy to seek costs of US$150 000

Friday, 10 February 2006,

Solid Energy to seek costs of US$150 000 from Happy Valley Activists

State Owned Enterprise Solid Energy plans to claim reparations of US$150 000 from three Save Happy Valley activists facing charges in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow at 10.00am. The charges relate to the blockade of Solid Energy coal trains in August 2005. Two of the activists, Daniel Rae and Frances Mountier chained themselves to the tracks, while the third, Raoni Hammer was suspended in a tree sit with ropes tried to the tracks below.

"By pursuing this approach Solid Energy seems to be trying to intimidate the people involved in the protests against the planned Cypress mine. It is a continuation of tactics which has included filming of peaceful protests on public land and the issuing of pre-emptive trespass notices," said Frances Mountier.

Four trains were stopped by the blockade and Solid Energy was forced to cancel one of them. They claim this prevented the shipment of 1500 tonnes of coal.

After initially stating that they will pursue the costs of US$150 000 and then retracting the statement, they now will once again attempt to seek the money in the District Court tomorrow when Frances Mountier and Daniel Rae will defend charges of Trespass, Trespass under the Railways Act and Interfering with the Railways Lines under the Crimes Act.

The Cypress mine in the upper Waimangaroa Valley on the West Coast will destroy the habitat of thirteen endangered species, pollute local waterways with acid mine drainage and when the extracted coal is brunt, contribute twelve million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

"Great spotted kiwi and *Powelliphanta patrickensis* are absolutely protected species under the Wildlife Act of 1953. Yet Solid Energy has been given permission by the courts to kill up to a hundred snails and ten kiwi," said Daniel Rae.

"Its appears that because the Government stands to make short term profit from the destruction of Happy Valley then Solid Energy can disregard the law. Yet when three young people speak out and take action against the wanton environmental destruction that the mine will because they are threatened with huge costs." **

There will be a vigil outside the Christchurch District Court on Durham Street from 9.30am tomorrow (Friday). Frances Mountier and Daniel Rae will be available for interview before and after court. Raoni Hammer appears in the same court at 10am Monday morning.


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