Monthly Archives: January 2013

Southland lignite proposals “100% stupidity” Aussie farmer tells meeting

Press release

Rob McCreath at the summerfest gathering on Saturday.

Rob McCreath from Friends of Felton at the Coal Action Summerfest gathering on Saturday.

The idea of digging up fertile farmland for lignite coal was “100% stupidity,” an Australian farmer told a Southland meeting today.

Rob McCreath was addressing the “Keep the Coal in the Hole” summer festival in Gore. The Queenslander told the 150-strong gathering how his community group, Friends of Felton, stopped a large coalmine and petrochemical plant from going ahead on prime agricultural farmland on the Darling Downs.

He has been in Dunedin and Southland for the last few days and was struck by the beauty of the farmland in the area.

“It’s hard to imagine a more productive farming area as I’ve seen in Southland. In Australia we are peppered with New Zealand’s 100% Pure adverts. It’s disgraceful that you have a government-owned company and they’re allowing it to dig up this beautiful farmland. That’s 100% stupidity,” said McCreath.

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One year on: Solid’s coal remains mostly in the hole

Press Release, 15 January 2013

When activists gathered a year ago near Mataura in Southland for the first “Keep the Coal in the Hole” Summer Festival, New Zealand was facing what looked like a massive, four-part, assault on the climate by Solid Energy.

The basis of that assault was Solid’s plans to exploit vast quantities of lignite, a low-grade brown coal that lies beneath prime Southland farmland – plans that, if carried out, would emit billions of tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions.

Solid was building its experimental pilot lignite briquetting plant, with a view to a full-scale briquetting plant being built later on.  A lignite-to-urea plant in partnership with fertiliser company Ravensdown was to follow, and then the biggest project of all, a plant to make synthetic diesel from lignite. The New Vale mine would be expanded and another larger mine dug to fuel all these projects.

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Summer Festival Registration Deadline Extended

If you were thinking of attending the 2013 Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, but hadn’t quite got round to registering by the original deadline of last Thursday, here’s some good news: Coal Action Murihiku, the organisers of the Festival, have kindly agreed to extend the registration deadline until this coming Wednesday, the 16th of January. So, here’s your chance: please register now at

As an incentive, check out this downloadable version of the programme for the Festival’s Community Day on Sunday 20 January:


Our Land, Our Water, Our Future – Worth Fighting For


Rob McCreath, our main guest speaker at the 2013 Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, has kindly agreed to speak in Dunedin on his way south – Wed 16 January 7pm at English Language Matters, Level 2 Evan Parry House, 43 Princes St. 

We’re looking forward to hearing how Rob and Friends of Felton stopped the coal mine and chemical plant in their area. And we’re hoping we can apply what he has learned to our own situation – how best to continue supporting our Southland neighbours, as well as protecting our own coastline and Otago region from more mining.

Tea, coffee and nibbles available. Hope you can make it. Here’s the Facebook invite:

Summerfest 2013 – And What We’ve Achieved Since Summerfest 2012

The 2013 Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival runs from 18-21 January, which means that it starts in a fortnight’s time! And registrations are due to close on 10 January, which means that you should hurry if you want to register. You can:

Find out all about the Festival here:

Register here (see the yellow Registration button near the bottom of the page):

Find out what we did at the last festival – and the tremendous progress that’s resulted from decisions made and steps taken at the Festival – in this summary which looks at what happened at the Festival and what the situation is one year on: Summerfest_2012_notes_and_progress

Check out the amazing poster for this year’s Summer Festival …


… and take a look at this group photo from the 2012 Festival: summerfest_2012_crew