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Environmentalists apply for immediate protection

Environmentalists apply for immediate protection of habitat

The Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated today applied for interim enforcement orders which, if granted, will immediately protect the habitat of critically-endangered land snail Powelliphanta "Augustus" from government-owned coal company Solid Energy.

"The legality of Solid Energy's mining operations in this habitat is under question. Solid Energy, however, has made it clear that it intends to continue to destroy snail habitat as fast as possible, before a court decision is even made. If we didn't apply for these court orders to stop the company immediately then by the time our case was decided on, the snail habitat could be gone," said Frances Mountier, spokesperson for the Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated.

In April the Ministers of Conservation and Energy granted the company Wildlife Permits to hunt, kill and possess Powelliphanta "Augustus", allowing them to destroy 94 percent of the species' minimal remaining habitat. The Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated will be arguing in the Environment Court in Christchurch that Solid Energy are breaching the Resource Management Act as they do not have the resource consents required to drive the snails to extinction, destroy the ridgeline on which the snails live, and pollute the rivers that drain the ridge.

"We will have experts from the Department of Conservation, La Trobe University in Melbourne, and a member of the Biodiversity Committee of the Royal Society of New Zealand supporting our case. Solid Energy has tried desperately to avoid these experts being heard in court, with two unsuccessful attempts to get the case struck out."

The Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated has also filed a Judicial Review of the decision of Chris Carter and Harry Duynhoven to grant the permit to hunt, kill and possess Powelliphanta "Augustus". This case is set down to be heard on 6 December 2006 in the High Court in Wellington.


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