Australian farmer to speak with Southland communities on coal mine threats
Mataura, Southland, 12 December:
Coal Action Network Aotearoa today announced that Queensland farmer Sid Plant will be addressing a public meeting in
Mataura in January to bring his first-hand account of the devastating impacts that open cast coal mining has on farming
and the local community.
The public meeting to be held in the Mataura Community Centre on Sunday 22 January will address how large scale lignite
mining and processing would affect farming, the economy, employment, and public health in Southland, and the world’s
The public meeting is part of the “Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival” organised by Coal Action Network Aotearoa
which is being run to build on the growing opposition to Solid Energy’s plans to mine billions of tonnes of lignite
under prime Southland farmland. Solid Energy’s proposal includes a briquetting plant to convert lignite to a more
concentrated form, a chemical fertiliser plant and a lignite-to-diesel plant.
We expect many Southlanders will be interested in meeting and hearing from Sid Plant, cattle and grain farmer from
Queensland, who is coming across the ditch especially for the festival, and to meet farmers. He will describe what it
was like suddenly finding himself living next door to a giant open cast coalmine and the effects on farming and the
local community. Mr Plant has held many positions including Cattlemen’s Union State Councillor, State President of the
Australian Polled Hereford Society, has had a long and active involvement in Landcare groups, and is an expert on
farming in a changing climate.
The health effects of open cast coal mining will be described by Dr Dougal Thorburn, Southern DHB Public Health Medicine
Registrar. He will bring international research on health impacts of coal, as well as the relatively new science of the
health impacts of climate change.
Dr Peter Barrett from Victoria University, a scientist with an international reputation in Antarctic research, will
summarise the latest science on climate change – what is happening now.
Each presentation will be followed by a discussion period where Southland people can engage with the visitors, ask
questions, challenge, and debate.
There is no charge for the open day. Lunch will be available to purchase, made by the Mataura Presbyterian Church group
which is raising funds for to help their young people do a mission outreach to the Cook Island in 2012. Alongside the
speakers, in the senior citizens’ room, will be a market of local produce and crafts, as well as information displays
brought by environmental and other groups from around New Zealand. There will also be entertainment from musicians from
“This is a great opportunity for an informed discussion between concerned Southlanders and participants in the Coal
Action Network Aotearoa festival” said CANA spokesman Kristin Gillies. “The more people understand the climate, health
and economic impacts of Solid Energy’s plans the more opposition grows,” concluded Gillies.
The “Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival” will run from 20-23 January on the farm of Mike Dumbar, close to the
pilot briquetting plant currently being built.
Registrations for the festival are open online at www.nocoalsummerfest.org.nz