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Call on Conservation Minister to protect species

February 2006

*Call on Conservation Minister to protect species and save Happy Valley *

Save Happy Valley is calling on the Minister of Conservation not to succumb to any further misleading claims from Solid Energy regarding lost revenue and jobs.

"Solid Energy has exerted great and unfounded pressure on Chris Carter, Minister of Conservation, over the last week, in order to distress the public and scare their employees. Solid Energy have given the impression that not mining just 3-4ha of Mt Augustus would lead to 130 job losses, and $400 million lost revenue. Statements such as these are alarmist and simply create fear," said Frances Mountier, Save Happy Valley Christchurch.

"Solid Energy's allegations about job losses are similar to their tactics to silence any opposition. The company previously tried to scare Forest & Bird and the Buller Conservation Group by seeking $379,342 in 'costs' for the Environment Court case. A Landcare Research scientist employed to give evidence against the mine was forced to pull out when Solid Energy warned that contracts were at risk," said Ms Mountier.

"This year, Solid Energy have claimed that they are with in two per cent of having a 'net positive impact on the environment' – yet they ignore climate change, still have no effective water treatment at Stockton and plan new extraction in the untouched Happy Valley ecosystem," said Ms Mountier.

"Solid Energy has such poor business practices that it will push an endangered native species into extinction. They have proven to the public yet again that they cannot be trusted – with an endangered species' survival or with a pristine environment.

"Solid Energy must not mine Happy Valley. This area is home to great spotted kiwi and twelve other endangered species; it still has clean and healthy waterways; and it contains a wetland that must be treasured. The Government ought to adhere to the demands of tangata whenua to treat the area with respect. The planned mine would lead to the emission of 12 million tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide. It is time to take a positive first step towards curbing climate change, and simultaneously develop a sustainable economy on the West Coast.

"Save Happy Valley are extremely disappointed that Mr Carter has yesterday succumbed to some of Solid Energy's pressure. He signed a Wildlife Permit to move a small population of critically endangered snails, enabling Solid Energy to destroy their habitat. This occurs as the Stockton mine moves inexorably closer to the main part of the critically endangered habitat of * Powelliphanta* "augustus".

"We trust that Mr Carter will not be misled when it comes to his decision on the fate of the entire population of this endangered species. Likewise, the Government must take their state owned enterprise under control and refuse the planned mine in Happy Valley," said Ms Mountier.

ENDS

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