Land Protectors Stop Coal in its Tracks 

Press release from: 
Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Environmental Justice Ōtepoti and Extinction Rebellion Ōtepot/Ōtautahi/Invercargill

 At 7.30 am this morning “land protectors” disrupted & locked themselves to the railway tracks outside the Dunedin Railway station to stop the daily coal train running from Bathurst Resources’ Takitimu mine in Southland to Fonterra’s Clandeboye milk factory in Temuka.

Upwards of ten people are currently locked to the tracks, blocking the train, while others carry flags and banners, and others are on drums.

Today’s action is very personal for Environmental Justice Ōtepoti member Fiona Clements (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha, Clan Gordon) whose whakapapa are to the Takitimu Mountains overlooking Bathurst’s coal mine.

“Ko Takitimu te Mauka, Ko Takitimu te Waka, My whakapapa is on the line, being carted off like carbonised bones, no longer of flesh but stone. This happens on a daily basis past my own home transporting the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. This undermines Mana whenua and our place here as kaitiaki of Papatūānuku”.

“Takitimu is the waka that brought my tīpuna from Hawaiki, it was turned to stone at Murihiku and now Bathurst desecrates this Whenua daily by carving it out & burning coal in Fonterra’s factories.” Says Clements.

“Fonterra purchases the majority of its’ coal from Bathurst Resources to dry milk powder for export. Fonterra is driving the demand for further coal expansion, desecrating the Whenua. Bathurst’s plan to expand the Southland Takitimu mine for another 30 years, demonstrates Fonterra are deceiving & delaying their supposed plan to phase out coal. If it wasn’t for Fonterra, Bathurst Coal Mines could shut down forever,”  said Coal Action Network’s Michael Dumbar,  a Southland farmer.

Scientists state coal must be phased out worldwide by 2030 in order to keep warming to the agreed Paris Agreement’s warming limit of 1.5 degrees C.

“Last year our Dunedin City Council declared a climate emergency and aims to be net zero emissions by 2030. The emissions from the coal on this train is the same as putting 2,500 extra cars on the road every single day. Bathurst and Fonterra’s coal train makes a mockery of what our city is trying to achieve,” s aid CANA’s Rosemary Penwarden.

“I’m simply doing what my conscience demands” said 79 year old Michael Fay, currently sitting in front of the train on the tracks.

“I’m here for these young people right here on the track beside me. It is morally unacceptable to do nothing while their future is flushed down this very [railway] line.”

The group, a coalition of climate activists have these three demands:

We say to the State, Fonterra & Bathurst Resources that they must be honourable treaty partners & honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi by:
1) Stopping expansion & protecting Te Whenua from further desecration
2) Implementing a just transition from extractive industry by centring mātauranga māori and supporting Tauiwi & Tangata Whenua to thrivewith Papatūānuku.
3) To the Government: You have declared a Climate Emergency. Stop subsidising & investing in the fossil fuel extractive industry. STOP COAL IN ITS TRACKS

More photos