For Immediate Release

An ‘elephant’ will attend a coal mining resource consent hearing in Westport on Monday, representing the climate change concerns environment groups are banned from voicing.

Resource consent commissioners, put in place by the Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council, directed that submitters not present evidence on climate change at the hearing for the Mt William North mining proposal. This follows a recent Environment Court decision that climate concerns cannot be taken into account on coal mining consents.

“Climate change is going to impact our lives, and our grandchildren’s – we’ll be paying to clean up the mess coal makes of our climate and oceans for thousands of years. Our environmental laws should let us take that into account,” says West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves.

The Environment Court decision not allowing consideration of climate change – focused on new coal mines proposed by Australian company Bathurst Resources and state-owned miner Solid Energy – has now been appealed by West Coast Environment Network and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

A peaceful rally outside the hearing will include street theatre – coal swept beneath the carpet, under the watchful eye of a ‘climate change’ elephant. “Our groups all wanted to present evidence on climate change, for example that New Zealand is meeting only a fraction of the commitments it has signed up to, but we have been told we are not allowed. Climate change really is the elephant in the room,” says Rosemary Penwarden of Coal Action Network Aotearoa.
“Nearly 150,000 people have signed a ‘No New Coal, No New Oil’ petition calling for moves to a clean economy. This would be a major new coal mine in an ecologically sensitive area – it’s time to say no,” she adds.

Groups being heard at the hearing and supporting the rally include Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO), Climate Defence Network, Ora Taiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, West Coast Environment Network, Buller Conservation Group and the Biodiversity Defence Society. There are also a number of individuals from across the South Island submitting in opposition to the mine.

For more information, contact:
Lynley Hargreaves, West Coast Environment Network, 037554227
Rosemary Penwarden, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, 0221856966
Colin Robertson, personal submission, 02102468528