Several protesters have stopped a coal train from running by locking themselves to the tracks at Dunedin Railway Station this morning.
Dozens of protesters are at the station where they have halted the running of a coal train from Bathurst Resources' Takitimu mine in Southland to Fonterra's Clandeboye milk processing plant in South Canterbury.
The group, comprising members of Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Environmental Justice Ōtepoti and Extinction Rebellion Ōtepoti/Ōtautahi/Invercargill, were protesting against the use of the coal in the factories "to dry milk powder for export", Environmental Justice Ōtepoti member Fiona Clements said.
About eight people have locked themselves to the tracks, while others are standing or sitting close by. There are some at the rear of the train, where several were atop a wagon. Many have signs or large flags with anti-coal messages or Extinction Rebellion symbols.
An Otago Daily Times staffer at the scene said there were three police officers present. They had asked the protesters to move on, but the protesters had remained where they were and at this stage police were continuing to observe.
One of the protesters, 79-year-old Michael Fay, said he was "simply doing what my conscience demands".
"I'm here for these young people right here on the track beside me. It is morally unacceptable to do nothing while their future is flushed down this very [railway] line."
Clements said in a statement the coal shipment happened on a daily basis, "past my own home transporting the world's dirtiest fossil fuel".
"Takitimu is the waka that brought my tīpuna from Hawaiki, it was turned to stone at Murihiku and now Bathurst desecrates this whenua daily by carving it out and burning coal in Fonterra's factories."
The group said it had three demands:
"We say to the State, Fonterra and Bathurst Resources that they must be honourable treat partners and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi by:
• Stopping expansion and protecting te whenua from further desecration.
• Implementing a just transition from extractive industry by centring matauranga Māori and supporting tauiwi and tangata whenua to thrive with Papatūānuku.
• That the Government stop subsidising and investing in extractive industry."