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Snail Decision Under Review By Court

Snail Decision Under Review By Court

Media Advisory: Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated

5/12/06

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

As destruction of the critically-endangered species habitat begins, grassroots environmental group Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated takes the Government to court for its decision to allow state-owned enterprise Solid Energy to mine 94% of the habitat of the native Powelliphanta "Augustus" snails for coal. Over 1300 sails have been moved so far and the SOE has begun the process of bulldozing their habitat. Review of the Ministers decision occurs at the High Court in Wellington from 10am, Wednesday December 6 2006.

The Ministers of Conservation and Energy granted a Wildlife Permit in April allowing Solid Energy to "hunt, kill and possess" the critically-endangered snails. In the High Court in Wellington tomorrow, the environmental group is challenging the basis on which the Ministers made that decision - "balancing" the last remaining habitat of Powelliphanta "Augustus" against the economic profit of coal mining.

“The case arises in the wider context of biodiversity conservation1 and climate change mitigation2, both of which are alleged commitments of the Labour Government,” said Alex Winter-Billington, a spokesperson for SHVC Inc. “The Ministers chose to risk extinction of an absolutely protected species in favour of commercial gain from extraction of a climate-changing fossil fuel3.”

“Solid Energy has moved over 1300 of the snails temporarily to icecream containers, which are currently stored in fridges, and has now begun destroying their habitat with heavy machinery” said Ms Winter-Billington.

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Save Happy Valley Coalition Incorporated has also taken a case in the Environment Court arguing that Solid Energy has not avoided, remedied or mitigated the impact of it’s activity on the snails’ habitat and that under the RMA it is required to do so. The judgement on that case is pending.

ENDS


Notes

1. The government’s New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy Executive Summary states “…the decline of New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity [is] described in the State of New Zealand's Environment report as our "most pervasive environmental issue". It also reflects New Zealand's commitment, through ratification of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, to help stem the loss of biodiversity worldwide.”

2. Studies have shown that climate change caused by an enhanced greenhouse effect has been occurring at a faster rate than even the direst IPCC predictions.

3. The ministers have justified issue of the permit to “hunt, kill and possess” the endangered snails with the extra two years of profit from buyer nations that exporting the mined coal would produce.

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