Gareth Hughes

More fracking good news

by Gareth Hughes

More fracking good news

Two positive developments out of the Hawkes Bay this week: Hastings District council has voted unanimously to take a precautionary approach when it comes to fracking, and a whānau has ‘locked their gates’ barring Tag Oil from fracking on their land, resulting in TAG Oil backing away from the proposed exploratory fracking well in the area.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said that “The aquifer is the life blood of Hawkes Bay and one of the most significant and pure forms of water in New Zealand. Council will seek to protect the aquifer and other waterways as an immediate priority. This could involve HDC’s formal opposition during a consenting process and we will adopt a precautionary approach.” Taking a precautionary approach to fracking, or any resource extraction, is a significant departure from the way that councils and regulatory agencies approach consenting such activities. It means that if there are any suspected risks associated with the activity to the environment or communities concerned, the burden of proof lies with those who wish to carry out the activity to prove that it will not be harmful, as opposed to the usual case where communities are forced to prove these risks themselves.

A similar motion will be on the agenda next Wednesday in the Wellington Greater regional Council, where the public is welcome to attend and have their say.

This week the news that a whānau in the Hawke’s Bay has successfully blocked TAG Oil from drilling a fracking exploration well on their land was confirmed in the Napier Mail. Though TAG says they could ‘reinvestigate’ later, this news goes to show that landowners still have significant control over whether fracking will be allowed to continue.

I’m confident the brave move by this whānau will be just the beginning, as more farmers and landowners join those who are demanding that this dangerous practice be stopped.

This great news comes in the same week the Taranaki the Council have revealed a litany of incidents, accidents and pollution as a result of fracking and drilling for oil and gas.

All those hard working kiwis who are speaking out about the dangers of fracking should pat themselves on the back this week. Together we can keep the frackers out of our backyard!

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Fri, June 8th, 2012   

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