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Environmentalists, MP call for snail's protection

Environmentalists, MP call for protection of endangered snails

Save Happy Valley Coalition Press Release

Sunday 16th April 2006

Save Happy Valley members and Green MP Metiria Turei have spent their Easter Holiday tramping to the Stockton Plateau on the West Coast to show solidarity with a species of endangered giant land snail which is threatened by the coal mining activities of state-owned Solid Energy.

Concerned members yesterday climbed 1000m up a steep untracked bush ridge to protest the planned destruction of the tiny remaining habitat of Powelliphanta "Augustus" on Mt Augustus, and today Metiria Turei will join the occupation against another planned coal mine in Happy Valley, a few kilometres east of Mt Augustus.

"There are less than 500 of the 'absolutely protected' Powelliphanta "Augustus" snails left anywhere on earth. Chris Carter's decision to permit SOE Solid Energy to mine the last four hectares of habitat is state-sanctioned species extinction," said Save Happy Valley Coalition spokesperson, Ms Frances Mountier.

"We will continue to work to ensure that these four hectares are not mined. Four hectares is a tiny area and its protection will ensure that these ancient taonga are saved for future generations."

MP Metiria Turei has criticized the Minister of Conservation's decision. "Solid Energy's plans here are illustrative of their disregard for the environment as a whole. They simply reinforce the public's concerns about a mine in Happy Valley," said Ms Turei.

"In this nationally important valley, the Government is also complicit in the destruction of habitat of kiwi and twelve other endangered birds and animals. New Zealand needs to be stepping away from fossil fuel extraction in light of the growing threats posed by climate change. The stunning Happy Valley and the tiny remaining stronghold of Powelliphanta 'Augustus' are great places to make those first steps," said Ms Turei.

Save Happy Valley has welcomed individuals and groups who are working to ensure that these two places are saved. "When the Minister of Conservation will not protect just four hectares of land from Solid Energy's bulldozers, it is up to all of us to ensure the survival of our endangered species," said Ms Mountier.

ENDS


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