Media Release: Climate Justice Taranaki seek oil/gas prohibition in sensitive areas to protect human health and safety

This morning, Climate Justice Taranaki spoke at the Proposed South Taranaki District Plan hearings. Below were our key points:

Hundreds of scientific studies concerning oil and gas development have been conducted internationally in recent years. A vast majority (84 percent) of such research has revealed signs of health impacts on nearby communities. Notably, a detailed study in Colorado concluded that residents living within 800m from gas wells were subject to almost twice the cancer risk than those living beyond 800m.

Under the Health Act, the district council has the duty to protect public health within its district.

Under the Resource Management Act, the district council has specific responsibilities in managing the effects of landuse in relation to hazardous facilities, contaminated land and natural hazards. It must also have regard to the effects of climate change when managing natural resources.

In our view, the proposed plan does not properly acknowledge or reflect these responsibilities.

Based on the above and applying the precautionary principle, we request the following:

– No petroleum associated activities and hazardous facilities or the expansion of such facilities should proceed without a resource consent.

– Prohibit petroleum exploration, production, fracking, reinjection and underground gas storage activities in the Residential, Township and Commercial Zones, in the Coastal Protection Area, in Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes, in/adjacent to Significant Waterbodies, Regionally Significant Wetlands and Significant Natural Areas.

– Ensure a minimum setback of 800m between sensitive landuse (like homes, schools and workplaces), and petroleum exploration, production, fracking, reinjection and underground gas storage activities. Prohibit such activities within the setback.

– Beyond the setback, all petroleum associated activities should be Discretionary, and all landowners/occupiers within 1,600m should be notified.

– Prohibit landfarming and wormfarming (that involve petroleum wastes) on food/crop producing land.

– Reinstate restrictions on petroleum drilling, fracking and deepwell injection near geological fault lines, with adequate setback determined by independent research.

This is all about people’s right to a safe living environment,” said Catherine Cheung, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.

Considering the increasing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies showing the links between increased earthquake events, deepwell injection and fracking, it is extremely unwise to allow these activities, to occur anywhere near fault lines,” said Lyndon DeVantier, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.

If anyone thinks our proposals are radical or unrealistic, consider this: Many jurisdictions, like France, Germany, Scotland, Tasmania and New York State, have a total ban or moratorium on fracking. France has now also banned all new petroleum exploration.

If entire countries, states or counties can ban fracking and/or petroleum exploration, surely it is not such a big ask to prohibit or strictly limit oil and gas activities in some areas, to protect human health and places of special environmental and cultural values,” concluded Cheung.

Our hearings statement can be found here on our website.

Media coverage:

Interview on Waatea News, 23 June 2016

Call for restrictions on exploration (Opunake & Coastal News, 8 July 2016, page 7)


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