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Pike River appeal could set precedent - lawyer Updated

Thursday 1 Dec 2016 5:35 a.m.

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A group of protestors blocked the Pike River access road on Thursday morning, as contractors tried to get up to the mine.

Protestors parked their vehicles in the middle of the road before police intervened. Family spokesperson Bernie Monk says it was successful.

"This has been a very good demonstration today. [It was] peaceful and I think we've got our point across."

The families are asking for a meeting with the Government ahead of plans to seal the mine for good.

"I'm asking the Government [to] sit around with the families," said Mr Monk.

The Pike River families are going to court in their fight to re-enter the mine and recover the bodies of their loved ones.

The families will appeal WorkSafe's notice insisting Solid Energy seal the mine.

The decision comes after they sat down with Solid Energy yesterday and reached a deadlock. The state-owned enterprise refused to hear from family-appointed experts on the mine's re-entry.

Lawyer for the families Nigel Hampton, QC, says there's still time for them to stop the mine from being permanently closed.

"If we can appeal successfully against the WorkSafe notice, that will give us some breathing time for the families to try to get into the mine."

The appeal will be lodged in Wellington District Court.

"This is new ground for everyone, and I suspect we will be making some new law as a consequence of all this," says Mr Hampton.

"I don't think I'd be advising them to take the appeal unless I thought there was some prospect of success."

The Government plans to seal the mine opening with 30m of concrete. Work has been stalled since November 12, with families occupying the mine access road.

Last week, Allied Concrete pulled out of its contract to seal the mine, saying it would refuse to do the work "until the dispute over re-entering the mine is resolved".

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