Coal or Kiwi: Solid Energy at it again

Friday 25 July 2008, 10:24AM
By Green Party


More native forest, snails and kiwi habitat are destined for destruction by Government-owned coal company Solid Energy.

The company is yet again applying to extend its Stockton open-cast coal mine, north of Westport, onto conservation land, the Green Party has revealed.

“Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that DoC is considering an application to destroy conservation land in order to access more of the Stockton coal seam, in an area called No. 2 South Cutback,” Metiria Turei, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson says.

“This area is a prime example of the ecological values that are being lost to mining, and the Green Party is asking DoC to ‘just say no’,” Mrs Turei says.

“This is an area that scientists have recommended for greater protection; it’s home to Great Spotted Kiwi, and it’s the only high altitude habitat for the giant carnivorous land-snail Powelliphanta patrickensis that is not already affected by mining.

“DoCs own correspondence notes that the area is ‘part of the Mt Frederick-Mt Augusutus recommended area for protection under the Protected Natural Areas programme, and has significant biodiversity values’.

“I am disappointed that a state-owned company would even consider mining in such an ecologically significant area.

“I’m also concerned that DoC may get bullied into agreeing to the destruction behind closed doors. DoC has already refused to release Solid Energy's concession application under the OIA - an unusual move that demonstrates how sensitive this issue is.

“Solid Energy is New Zealand’s largest coal producer and continues to expand its mining operations into new ecologically important areas. In addition to pursuing No. 2 South Cutback, the company has said it will begin mining Happy Valley – with its nationally significant wetland and 13 threatened species – later this year.”

The Green Party policy is for no new coal mines, and an end to all commercial mining on conservation land or where threatened species are found.

“The Green Party believes that land that has been protected for its ecological and conservation values on behalf of all New Zealanders should be just that: protected,” Mrs Turei says.