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Tell Southland District Council to keep the coal in the hole

Gareth Hughes MP
Gareth Hughes MP
gareth [dot] hughes [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Take a minute to send a submission in defence of the climate.

Southland District Council is calling for submissions on its proposed District Plan. This is your chance to tell the Southland District Council that you want a sustainable and prosperous future for Southland, and call on it to make new mining and drilling for lignite coal and coal seam gas a prohibited activity.

Southland holds large amounts of lignite coal and coal seam gas deposits, which companies such as L&M are interested in mining. As well as being disastrous for the climate, new mining for coal seam gas or lignite poses risks to the local environmental and the health of local residents. Southland doesn’t need to go down the path of dirty lignite or coal seam gas; as a recent report produced by BERL and WWF showed, there are good new jobs available in Southland in other, more sustainable industries such as forestry and education.

It’s easy to send a submission and you can do it here.

Here’s what I am sending them:

I call on the Southland District Council to make new mining and drilling for lignite coal and coal seam gas a prohibited activity in the Southland District Plan.

Areas of Southland hold deposits of coal seam gas and lignite, where companies such as L&M and Solid Energy have held mining and drilling operations or are hoping to in the near future.

Lignite is the lowest grade of coal and is disastrous for the climate. It also irreparably damages the landscape and destroys valuable farmland. It leads to pollution and can damage the health of those who live near the mining operations.

Further, as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has reported, the industry is unfairly subsidised by tax payers under the current rules of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The coal seam gas mining process, while also destabilising the climate, extracts and uses a huge amount of water from the water table which can have a direct impact on other uses of this resource such as farmers, and carries the serious risk of water and air pollution and leaks and well blow outs.

I commend the council on its acknowledgement of climate change in the district plan and its effects on various aspects of Southland’s future including infrastructure and natural hazard plans. I also commend the responsible acknowledgement of the wide array of benefits of renewable energy and the explanation of Policy ENGM.5  which states that ‘Consideration should be given to the development, operation, maintenance and upgrading of new and existing renewable resources including wind, hydro electricity, solar, biomass, geothermal, tidal, wave and ocean current energy resources.’

The recent BERL/WWF report showed that Southland can prosper without exploiting dirty lignite and coal seam gas. There are good new jobs available in other, more sustainable sectors such as enhanced forestry, engineering and education; jobs that won’t destabilise our climate or require ongoing tax payer subsidies for carbon emissions.

Taking into account the council’s acknowledgment of climate change, it’s commitment to the development of renewable energy, and the evidence which shows the alternative opportunities existing for Southland’s economy, I call on the council to act responsibly for its local residents, and for people outside its boundaries, by make new mining and drilling for lignite coal and coal seam gas a prohibited activity.

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