'No Coal' summer festival returns

15 Nov 2012

 Coal Action Network’s Summerfest is back and inviting all people wanting to see coal mining phased out to show their support at the weekend gathering next January.

This year’s event is themed “Shaping our future. We have options!” and focuses on looking at ways to build a low-carbon future for Southland and New Zealand.

The event is organised by the network’s Southland division, Coal Action Murihiku, with Forest & Bird’s Southland branch taking an active interest.

Jenny, who is also Southland Forest & Bird branch secretary, says the family-friendly festival is a “natural follow up” to the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival in January this year.

“It’s continuing the hard work set at the inaugural Summerfest where there was a groundswell of support for the national drive to phase out new coal mines in New Zealand.”

 “Coal is polluting the air and adding hugely to climate change. Our carbon emissions would go up 20 per cent if we burned all the lignite in the Mataura Valley. But it’s not just what’s happening in Southland, there’s coal mining in Huntly and on the West Coast,” she says. 

The event will be held from Friday 18 to Monday 21 of January at Dolamore Park camping ground, near Gore. The area is surrounded by native bush and is also a potential lignite-to-urea plant site.

The festival will involve a tour of a new mine site and key natural areas, guest speakers, training in action-led campaigning, a public education day, live music and entertainment.

Keynote speaker Rob McCreath from Queensland’s Friends of Felton will tell the story of how the rural community group there successfully fought a mining company’s bid to construct an open-cut mine and petro-chemical plant.

Other speakers include former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, a lawyer to help clarify rights under the Crown Minerals Act and WWF-NZ climate change campaigner Peter Hardstaff.

Jenny says Summerfest is about regrouping, gathering new ideas for future action as well as “gathering strength, energy and courage” for the long campaign ahead.

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