Coal Action Network Aotearoa member Rosemary Penwarden
(centre) flanked by Jeanlou Fourquet (left) and Enaz Erazal
carries a gift of mothballs and fresh produce for Solid
Energy outside its briquetting plant on Craig Rd, near
Mataura yesterday. Photo by Helena de Reus.
Climate-change campaigners are gathered near Gore this
weekend to support Southlanders concerned about the potential
impacts on their communities of lignite mining.
The ''Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival'' began
yesterday at Dolamore Park near Gore, and finishes on Monday.
The festival's theme is ''Shaping Our Future - We Have
Options'' and is being hosted by Coal Action Murihiku.
Yesterday, members of Coal Action Network presented Solid
Energy with a ''low-carbon future'' basket of
sustainably-grown vegetables to represent the future of
Southland's fertile farming, paired with some mothballs for
its lignite projects.
Summer festival attendees took a tour to view Solid Energy's
coal projects in the area, including the briquetting plant in
Mataura, where they left the basket for the company.
The gates to the plant were locked, with security guards on
site when the group arrived outside.
Spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden asked Solid Energy to mothball
''We've spent $29 million of taxpayers' money on this lignite
project already - and any more money spent would be a
waste,'' she said yesterday.
The region would be far better off looking to develop
low-carbon technologies and industry, as spelt out in the
Berl economic report for Southland released by WWF last year,
''Given things aren't going so well for you guys, we would
like to offer an alternative. We have options: mothball the
briquette plant, and join with us in choosing a low-carbon
future for all of our children and grandchildren.''
The group visited Solid Energy's New Vale coal mine at
Waimumu, and Craig Rd farmer Mike Dumbar.
The festival includes an update on lignite projects, and a
series of workshops. Several speakers will address a public
open day at the James Cumming Wing on Ardwick St, Gore,
tomorrow. Speakers include Friends of Felton founding
president, Australian farmer Rob McCreath, whose group won a
four-and-a-half-year battle against a proposed open-cut coal
mine and a petrochemical plant on the Darling Downs, in
Public open day, James Cumming Wing, Ardwick St, Gore, 10am