On Labour Day the holiday traffic on State Highway 2 got a free education from our roadside rally against the Fonterra coal mine at Mangatawhiri. This event was organised by “Auckland Coal Action” so I drove over from Thames with Jeanette Fitzsimons and other locals to support the effort. There were some fantastic banners visible to the slow moving traffic with messages such as “Coal Cooks the Climate” and “Fonterra Coal Mining is so Yesterday” and “Fonterra Can Use Wood Waste”.
The issue is very topical as Glencoal, a subsidiary of Fonterra have received a consent to open cast mine for coal to fuel the Fonterra milk powder factories in the Waikato. During the court case, Commissioners heard the concerns of local residents about dust, noise and pollution as well as issues about coal contributing to climate change which were not considered relevant. The Greens want Fonterra to use their considerable resources to develop clean energy sources for their factories.
A company that uses the rhetoric of sustainability needs to implement these practices rather than open a cheap and dirty coal mine. Leadership is badly needed if we are to start addressing climate change and that means no more new coal mines. In 2013 we have spent $100 million on weather damage repairs and $1 billion on drought relief, but the Government and Fonterra are refusing to join the dots. Fonterra could make a start by dropping their plan to mine Mangatawhiri.