I am pleased to see that our councils have decided to invest $100,000 of our money in a study on the economic benefits and environmental risks of oil & gas exploration on the East Coast (Oil exploration takes big leap 29/9/12) at the behest of central government. Why am I pleased you might ask? To my mind it is proof positive that the Minister of Economic Development makes decisions without any of the necessary facts at hand. Surely he should have known this information previously. For 12 months we have been hearing about how beneficial oil and gas exploration is going to be to the East Coast yet it is only now that a study is actually going to be undertaken. Where all the so called facts previously published just pie in the sky figures? It would appear so.
It is also interesting that, as a parting shot, the outgoing Business Hawkes Bay CEO irresponsibly claims that there was never a licence to drill on the Heretaunga Plains. Yet the Iwi, Local & Regional Government Information Packet Number One put out by Tag Oil & Apache Corp on 14/10/11 clearly show permits being held over the Heretaunga Plains. One also has to wonder why the terms of reference for this study stated “This study would not consider any potential petroleum development in the Heretaunga Plains area, since it would be considered such a development would be inappropriate” if permits were not held for the Heretaunga Plains in the first place.
At the same time he appears to be intimating that the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report is going to be of no value given that the report is also covering environmental issues. I remain confident of the impartiality of the PCE and look forward to her report. I doubt that I will agree with all her findings but a least I can be confident of her motives.
The tactics being used by the proponents of oil and gas exploration are very obvious, and if they weren’t so serious would be quite comical. Landowners should be reminded that they are under no obligation what-so-ever to sign access agreements, and that there is plenty of community support for them if they refuse to do so.