Friday, January 27, 2006
NOT SO HAPPY IN HAPPY VALLEY
The following is some news out of New Zealand. The first article is from the New Zealand based website "Stuff." The second is a press release from the group Save Happy Valley.
Anti-mine protest begins on Coast
West Coast (New Zealand) environmentalists have started an "indefinite wilderness protest" against mining and expect more activists to join them today.
Members and supporters of Save Happy Valley Coalition are camping out in protest against state coal miner Solid Energy's plans to mine part of the Upper Waimangaroa, 20km north-east of Westport.
Coalition spokeswoman Frances Mountier said the protesters camped out in bush close to the mine planned to stay for as long as it took Solid Energy and the Government to propose plans for sustainable West Coast development which did not include mining Happy Valley.
About 50 people from all over New Zealand were expected to join the protest today.
Mountier said Happy Valley was home to such threatened species as the great spotted kiwi and a giant land snail.
Her group also opposed the carbon dioxide emissions from the mined coal and said Solid Energy's environmental record in mine drainage was poor.
She invited members of the public to join the protest.
Mountier said half the protesters were coalition members, made up of students and professionals.
She denied supporters were brought in for the protest. Some who were recruited at a public meeting attended by Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimons in Christchurch on Monday were already interested in the cause.
"People who are willing to come and tramp in and then occupy this site have to be pretty committed already," Mountier said.
Mountier said her group, based in Christchurch, recognised the employment and other economic opportunities the mine would bring to the northern West Coast but wanted the Government to create sustainable industries in the region.
Buller Conservation Group spokesman Pete Lusk said he expected a counter-protest from supporters of the proposed Cypress opencast mine.
Greenpeace has applauded the occupation, saying coal had no future and was a health and environmental villain.
The direct action protest was inspiring, Greenpeace campaign manager Cindy Baxter said.
Solid Energy spokeswoman Vicki Blyth said the company had been aware of the planned action for some time.
Environmentalists had the right to protest and Solid Energy's only concern was that protesters might make incursions into the nearby Stockton mine.
Solid Energy had already served protesters pre-emptive trespass notices from previous protests.
"We would be seeking to confirm that to the people up there during the protest and that they were OK," she said.
"Our security people will be checking on them to make sure they are OK from a health and safety perspective."
Last year, Solid Energy staff had to walk some protesters off the mountain when weather turned bad and they got lost.
Solid Energy expects to start work at the mine in a year.
The High Court last month rejected an appeal against development and mining by Forest and Bird.
Occupation Of Happy Valley
Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 1:25 pm
Press Release: Save Happy Valley Campaign
Occupation Of Happy Valley
From Saturday 28th January Save Happy Valley Coalition members and supporters will be indefinitely occupying the site of Solid Energy’s planned opencast coal mine in Happy Valley near Westport on the West Coast.
“This mine will be such an ecological disaster that we are left with no choice but to use non-violent direct action to stop Solid Energy’s destruction of such a pristine environment.” said Frances Mountier spokesperson for the Coalition.
“The Happy Valley mine will destroy the habitat of numerous endangered species including great spotted kiwi and the carnivorous snail Powelliphanta patrickensis, release 12 million tonnes of climate changing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from the burning of the coal, and pollute local waterways with acid mine drainage.” said Frances Mountier.
“Despite having the power to stop this mine, the Labour government is actively pursuing a path of environmental destruction for the sake of profit. This mine is a rejection of any commitment by Labour to stop climate change or protect the endangered kiwi.”
"We will occupy the mine site until Solid Energy and the Government propose plans for sustainable West Coast development that do not include mining Happy Valley. We invite members of the public to come and join us," said Frances Mountier.
After Saturday, cellphone coverage in Happy Valley is only available in specific places. If you cannot get hold of us, leave a message in Frances's voice box and we will return your calls at 10am and 3pm daily.
The Save Happy Valley Coalition is a collection of groups and individuals from around Aotearoa committed to stopping Solid Energy's proposed open cast coal mine in Happy Valley (Upper Waimangaroa Valley) on the West Coast. The coalition is made up of West Coast locals, students, workers and the general public. The group has a track record of creative protests, occupations and lock-ons as well as producing a variety of informative media. More information about the coalition and its history can be found at http://www.savehappyvalley.org.nz/aboutus.htm