This proposed district plan will have far reaching implications in how the oil and gas industry will be regulated on New Zealand, as other councils look on. The plan may even form the basis of a national policy statement, so we want to get it right. As it stands, the plan is far too permissive to the oil and gas industry, posing unacceptable risks to people and the environment.
Submission closes on 12 Oct 2015.
Below are the key points to submit on (following council’s required format):
1. Scope of Submission
My submission concerns all aspects of petroleum activities and hazardous substances in the proposed plan, and especially the Rural Zone Rules 3. 2.2 on minimum setbacks; Hazardous Substances Rules 12.2.4 and 12.3.2-12.3.4; and Energy Rules 13.1.1, 13.1.4, 13.1.5.
I oppose the specific provisions identified above because:
a) The Rural Zone Rules provision 3.2.2 permits dwellings and other sensitive activities just 150m from petroleum exploration and production activities, 200m from hazardous facilities or 300m from a Rural Industrial Zone (e.g. STOS Maui Oaonui Production Station). Although this provision primarily addresses reverse sensitivity issues, it does mean that oil/gas drilling, fracking, production and injection activities can occur within such minimum distances from homes, schools, hospitals and other sensitive landuse.
b) To protect local communities, this provision should be amended with much increased setback distances determined by science and thorough analyses. Notably, EPA West Australia stipulates a separation distance of 2000m between oil/gas activities and sensitive land uses.
c) In the Rural Zone, petroleum activities and hazardous facilities should be Prohibited within the setback distances and Discretionary beyond the setback.
d) The Hazardous Substances Rule provision 12.2.4 permits the increase in use, storage and handling of hazardous substances by 20% in the Rural Industrial Zone. This is not acceptable. All increase or expansion of hazardous facilities within the Rural Industrial Zone should be Discretionary.
e) Provision 12.3.4 on natural hazards should include restrictions on all developments within 100m of a geological fault line, including adequate setback distance for oil/gas drilling, fracking and deepwell injection.
f) Provisions 12.3.2-12.3.3 should be amended to include an adequate setback distance for all significant waterbodies, wetlands and natural areas, whether or not they are prone to natural hazards.
g) Energy Rules provision 13.1.1 classifies petroleum prospecting as Permitted in the Rural Zone without any setback distance, following PEPANZ’s feedback, as was the exclusion of oil and gas activities from the definition of Major Hazardous Facilities. This is suggestive of regulatory capture.
h) Provision 13.1.4 classifies petroleum exploration and production in the Rural Zone as Discretionary, but does not stipulate any separation distance to sensitive landuse. This needs to be amended to include adequate separation distances determined by science and thorough analyses.
i) Provision 13.1.5 classifies petroleum exploration and production in Coastal Protection Area or an area of outstanding natural features and landscapes as Non-complying. These activities should be Prohibited in all such areas.
3. I seek the following decision from the South Taranaki District Council:
Accept the Proposed Plan with the following amendments:
a) Address all the issues raised above in the previously listed provisions.
b) Introduce provisions to address cumulative effects. E.g. Provisions are needed to take into account the different risk levels from installations of different sizes, intensity of activities, and proximity to other hazardous facilities.
c) Introduce specific provisions on landfarming, mix-bury-cover and other petroleum waste facilities.
d) Reinstate and expand on the Natural Hazards provisions (section 12) of the 2004 district plan in the proposed plan, to take into account the full implications of climate change, sea level rise, storm surges and other hazards, for the protection of people, sensitive activities and essential utilities, and to facilitate adaptation.
4. I wish to be heard in support of my submission (you can request hearing by tele- conference). State also whether you will consider presenting a joint case at a hearing, if others make a similar submission.
5. Declare if you could or could not gain an advantage in trade competition. If you could gain an advantage, state whether you are or are not directly affected by an effect of the subject matter of this submission that (a) adversely affects the environment; and (b) does not relate to trade competition or the effects of trade competition.
The plan, with rules, maps and supporting documents, are available on council website. Submit online here: http://www.southtaranaki.com/Council/Consultation/Proposed-District-Plan-Online-Submission/ or fill in this form and return it to council in person or by email districtplanreview@STDC.govt.nz
Note all five questions on council’s submission form must be answered and don’t forget your contact details. By all means include your own comments on the above and any other provisions or maps you are concerned about.