This is a guest post by Coal Action Murihiku member Dave Kennedy from Invercargill.

Last year Environment Southland revealed that both Invercargill and Gore had exceeded air pollution standards multiple times due to the on going use of lignite and coal for domestic heating and has amongst the poorest air quality in New Zealand:

Venture Southland has researched a range of energy options available in Southland and has recognised wood as one of the better long-term solutions for our future energy needs, both economically and environmentally:

The Dunedin City Council has come to a similar conclusion and conversion to wood pellet heating systems is being actively promoted:

A number of Southland Schools and our swimming pool have replaced coal boilers for ones using wood pellets. Although initial costs were greater than reinstalling a coal system, running costs become cheaper over time and the level of ash produced and maintenance required is much less using wood. Schools felt the health of their children was also an important consideration because the negative effects of using coal are well known. Economically and morally wood fired boilers were the best choice.

Ascot Park Hotel in Invercarill is nationally recognised for being one of the best examples of a business using sustainable practices and having a minimal environmental footprint and it has won multiple awards for doing so. The hotel’s environmental efforts have actually attracted business and have proven to be a commercial success story as well:

You can imagine my surprise when I read the article in the Southland Times (January 13) that they are replacing the old lignite boilers with new lignite boilers and board member Angela Newell is quoted as being disappointed that a greener option had not been explored.

I struggle to understand how the management of our Licensing Trust can be so short sighted in their decision to use lignite again and have effectively sabotaged Ascot Park’s progress in becoming one of the most environmentally friendly hotels in New Zealand.

You can comment on the Southland Times article or write a Letter to the Editor of the Southland Times on this issue.