Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plans to mine a schedule-4 protected wetland

The Southland Times this morning reports on L&M Lignite's plans for a lignite to diesel plant in Southland. L&M, you may remember, were the people who convinced Gerry Brownlee to exclude an area from the Oteake Conservation Park last year. Now they want to dig up that area, and other areas around Southland, to fuel a filthy, carbon-polluting coal-to-lignite plant.

But the real news in the article isn't their plans for the lignite plant - its their plans for where else they may want to dig up:

L&M Lignite holds exploration permits for all or part of seven deposits in Otago and Southland, including the Hawkdun deposit in Central Otago, the Ashers-Waituna reserve near Invercargill and the Benhar sector of the Kaitangata coalfield.
(Emphasis added).

Yes, they want to dig up a reserve - but not just any reserve. Ashers-Waituna is the old name; the area is now known as the Awarua Wetlands. Its a Ramsar site, recognised as being of outstanding ecological significance and protected by international law - and Schedule 4. L&M currently has an exploration permit for this area, granted back in 2003 before the Ramsar site was expanded. Digging up this area and turning it into an open cast mine would be pure ecological vandalism. Even having one nearby would pose a significant danger to the wetland due to mine drainage and associated pollution.

This plan cannot be allowed to go ahead. The Awarua wetlands are too valuable to dig up, too valuable to pollute. L&M must be stopped now.

(As for the inherent insanity of lignite plants, I'll save that for another day)