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School faces ongoing battle

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 11/06/2014
Protesters
Simon Smith

PUMPED: It is not safe for children to have a petrol station next to their school, protesters say.

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Protesters fighting a fourth attempt to build a petrol station next to a primary school are making their views heard.

"People are important, stop BP," hundreds of schoolchildren and adults chanted on Friday as they waved placards at traffic outside St Mark's Catholic School.

Proposals to build on the site were rejected in 1992 and 1998, and the school was preparing to fight another proposal in 2003 that did not go ahead.

School board chairman Sheyan Samarasinha says they are trying to raise awareness of BP Oil's latest plan, because there was only limited public notification.

"How many times do we as a small community need to fight a major international company on the same issue?" he says.

Another protest on the Pakuranga Rd footpath is planned this Friday.

Deputy chairwoman Marie-Louise McElwee says the school needs $30,000 to employ experts to oppose the resource consent, and at least another $60,000 if it ends up in the Environment Court. "I'm terrified of how much that is going to be," she says.

"Previous school generations have fought this successfully, so we feel we have to fight this for future children that come to this school."

St Mark's cannot use its government funding to fight the proposal, she says.

The school was trying to fundraise for a new hall.

Samarasinha says the petrol station would be dangerous for primary school students.

"They are at that age where they are inquisitive, they aren't fully aware of their environment," he says.

BP has previously told the Eastern Courier it is exploring options for the site.

Go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/stopbp to see the protesters' fundraising webpage.

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- Eastern Courier

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