Conservation Minister picking a fight with Kiwis over more mining

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry will have to go against the will of the New Zealand public if she pushes ahead with more open-cast coal mining on conservation land on the West Coast, the Green Party said today.

It has been revealed that the Government is planning to open up areas of the West Coast’s Buller Plateau for open-cast and underground coal mining, home to kiwi, geckos, and other rare plants and animals.

“It looks like Maggie Barry herself is at the centre of a plan to mine coal in pristine conservation land and has forgotten the huge public backlash last time National tried,” Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“There is clearly more information to come out about this shady plan that looks like it was developed to sweeten the deal for the companies that bought Solid Energy’s assets, and try to kick-start a new era of coal mining.

“Tens of thousands of New Zealanders marched in the streets to stop mining in National Parks in 2010 and we’ll do it again to stop this proposed mining in conservation land if we have to.

“National just doesn’t get it. Mining coal in conservation land is a bad idea economically and environmentally.

“Coal is on the way out globally – just ask any energy expert. Why on Earth we would destroy our biodiversity and conservation land to mine last century’s fossil fuels is beyond me.

“The science is clear that to stop runaway climate change, we can’t even burn all the fossil fuels we’ve already discovered, so National shouldn’t be looking for even more coal to burn,” Mr Hughes said.

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