Press release
Wednesday 18 January 2012

More than 100 people from across New Zealand will gather
on a farm in Southland this weekend to discuss how to stop Solid Energy’s
proposed lignite project plans there.

The “Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival,” organised by Coal Action
Network Aotearoa, will begin on Friday evening, and go through to Monday
morning, with an Open Day for the public at the Mataura Community Centre on

Solid Energy’s plans to exploit the lignite coal under Southland’s farmland
would constitute the largest industrial complex in New Zealand’s history .

“Lignite coal is the world’s dirtiest, lowest-value fossil fuel – and this
project would increase our greenhouse gas emissions massively – at a time
when we need to be decreasing them,” said Tim Jones, a festival

“It is extraordinary that Solid Energy has been allowed to build the first
of these projects under a consent system that doesn’t have to take the
emissions into account. We need to keep the coal in the hole if we want our
children to inherit a liveable planet,” he said.

The company has bought up 4,000 ha of good quality farmland for its
industrial projects. The Festival will take place on the beautiful sheep
farm of Mike Dumbar, who has refused to sell his land for mining.

A highlight of Sunday’s Open Day will be veteran Queensland beef and grain
farmer, Sid Plant, whose farm now borders a massive, 10 billion tonne coal
mine. Mr Plant has farmed here for 30 years. He has developed a
reputation for his interest in – and talks on – climate change, earning him
a finalist place in the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist Awards last
year. He will speak about his experience in living next to a coal mine,
and its impact on his farm. See Sid’s biog here

Also speaking will be doctors from the “Ora Taiao” group, who have noted
the World Health Organisation’s statement that climate change is the biggest
threat to human health, and are acting on climate change in the interests of
the health of patients. They will talk on the health impacts of coal – and
of climate change.

Tim Jones noted that support from the local community had been
“overwhelming” with offers of equipment, food and sleeping arrangements.
Local scouts are coming to help set up the camp over the coming few days
before the participants arrive.


Coal Action Network Aotearoa Spokespeople:
Tim Jones 027 359 0293 and
Kristin Gillies 021 865 8460 (Kristin will be on-site from today, doing set-up)

Media contact:
Cindy Baxter 021 772 661 – pix of Sid Plant available on request.
Also, see this NY Times piece on the area he lives in