Press Release: Multiple risks ignored in proposed new airport terminal – New Plymouth

15/05/2017

The New Plymouth District Council proposes to borrow close to $30 million on a new, larger airport terminal with a unique cultural design. Climate Justice Taranaki Inc. raises serious questions about the risk assessment and business case behind the proposal.

IMG_20160915_091250 airport rig LR CJT

I was gobsmacked when I arrived at the airport, and there was a huge drill rig right there in front of the café. It was last September. It was apparently there to plug old wells.

There is no relief in thinking that the airport wells are not producing and are therefore safe. In fact, the likelihood of an abandoned well leaking increases over time. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has made it clear that once a well is abandoned and ‘signed off’, any leaks or other problems become the responsibility of the landowner,” said Catherine Cheung, Researcher of Climate Justice Taranaki Inc..

The danger of oil and gas activities, whether it is current or historic, is real. Just last month, a Colorado home was blasted to the ground, killing two people. The cause of the explosion was a gas leak from a cut pipeline that’s connected to an old gas well that was recently restarted.

“Did Council take such risks and liability into account when conducting the risk analysis for the new airport terminal? What if an oil company decides to resume drilling, fracking, production or injection activities onsite?  Is Council certain that the health and safety risks associated with the increase in aviation and passenger traffic that they hope will follow, are justified or manageable?” Cheung asked.

Currently in the New Plymouth District Plan, there are no rules specifying the minimum separation distances required between hazardous facilities like wellsites and sensitive landuse like schools and airports where people congregate.

The South Taranaki District Council, under pressure from the oil companies, dropped all the specified setback requirements, despite Taranaki Energy Watch’s expert witnesses arguing strongly for minimum setbacks based on analysis of effects and risks to human health, property and the environment.

We are gutted that NPDC has joined the oil companies and Stratford District Council in opposition to Taranaki Energy Watch’s appeal on STDC’s decisions. We expect Council to care for our health and safety, not to ally with oil companies when considering rules that could potentially jeopardise people’s lives,” Cheung said.

There are other risks that Council must evaluate when considering the airport expansion – the impacts of climate change and the associated extreme weather events and sea level rise.

There is no doubt that coastal hazards are increasing over time. The Environment Commissioner has warned that even a small amount of sea level rise will substantially exacerbate the costs of flooding and storm surges. When risks become uneconomic, an asset like the airport could become ‘uninsurable’. Council’s business case on the proposed airport expansion totally ignores climate change and the financial risks and liability associated with it,” Cheung concluded.

Climate Justice Taranaki’s submission to NPDC re the proposed new airport terminal is here: https://climatejusticetaranaki.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cjt-submission-on-npdc-annual-plan-re-airport-expansion-and-water-rates-final.pdf

Media:

Risks ignored in proposed new airport terminal (Opunake & Coastal News, 26 May 2017 p.16)

New Plymouth airport upgrade given the go ahead (Taranaki Daily News, 7 Jun 2017)

Debate after New Plymouth airport upgrade triples in cost (Radio NZ, 7 Jun 2017)


Media release: Climate change again missing in NPDC Plan

13/10/2016

npdc-draft-district-plan-oct2016-coverClimate change is again missing from a document that is supposed to be a guiding plan for New Plymouth’s next ten years. The New Plymouth District Council’s District Plan, which will shortly go out for public consultation, makes hardly any attempt to adapt to the realities of climate change, let alone mitigate” says Urs Signer, member of community group Climate Justice Taranaki.

In the 150-page document, there is no single reference to climate change. It is simply unbelievable that local authorities are doing nothing when it comes to planning on climate change issues. Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions has to be our number priority. Yet, the Council is not even planning for adaptation to the effects of climate change.

We are seeing more and more extreme weather events in Taranaki: droughts, floods, coastal erosion. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. It is our generation’s task to sort this mess out. To do that, we need to take action in our communities, because clearly the so-called political leaders at both national and local level are not prepared to even talk the talk. We should have been walking decades ago.

Let’s pull our heads out of the sand and start dealing with the root causes of climate change and work towards a society based on triple-bottom-lines of a sustainable society, environment and economics” concludes Urs Signer.


Victories, Resistance and Determination

04/09/2016

Victoria ban fracking Greenleft 31Aug16 collage for cjt blog 4sep2016

The last few weeks and months have seen a series of encouraging wins on the environmental front: Read the rest of this entry »


Media Release: Landfarming – Toxic waste disposal or recycling of rocks, mud and minerals?

20/07/2016
BTW Oeo landfarm incidence 2014 TRC 1280327

Photos from TRC monitoring report on BTW Oeo landfarm, June 2014

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) Chief Executive Cameron Madgwick said, “landfarming is nothing more than taking the ground-up rocks, mud and minerals left over from drilling activities and recycling them by placing them underneath the topsoil.

Unfortunately, the facts tell a different story. As Climate Justice Taranaki Inc. (CJT) pointed out at the public hearings on the Proposed South Taranaki District Plan, the euphemistically termed ‘landfarming’ is actually the spreading of contaminated oil/gas wastes on farmland, and mostly on the coast in South Taranaki. Read the rest of this entry »


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

21/06/2016

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Press release: District Council must protect our drinking water

07/06/2016

At today’s public hearings on the Proposed South Taranaki District Plan, Climate Justice Taranaki argued that avoiding adverse effects on human drinking water sources must be added to the district plan.

Under the proposed plan, the district council is not required to assess explicitly the potential adverse effects on drinking water sources, when considering resource consents. This is just not good enough. All water supplies, whether they’re for rural or urban communities, should be protected,” said Catherine Cheung of Climate Justice Taranaki.

This issue was first raised by Taranaki District Health Board (TDHB) in their submission on the proposed plan. The DHB also recommended that Schedule 5 on Significant Waterbodies be amended, to specifically ensure the provision and protection of human drinking water sources. Under the Health Act and the National Environmental Standards on Sources of Human Drinking Water, council, being the district’s main drinking-water supplier, has the responsibility to protect our drinking water sources.

Our group fully supports the DHB’s recommendations. We were shocked when we read that both recommendations were rejected in Council Officers’ report,” continued Cheung.

Climate Justice Taranaki will be speaking again at subsequent hearing sessions concerning hazardous substances, energy and other issues, in late June.

— END —

Read our hearings statement here.

Media coverage: Opunake and Coastal News, 17 June 2016 page 7

See maps of South Taranaki’s water supplies below, from South Taranaki Water Supply Monitoring Programme Annual Report 2014-2015.

South Taranaki Water Supply north TRC 1604836

South Taranaki Water Supply south TRC 1604836


‘Council approved land grab’ by oil & gas?

22/01/2016
Darryl Smith at Kapuni farm RNZ21Jan2016 eight_col_DSC05063

Farmer Darryl Smith. Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

It is concerning to hear Taranaki farmers  Philip and Ainsley Luscombe describe South Taranaki District Council’s proposed buffer zones between dwellings and oil & gas installations as a “council approved land grab. Read the rest of this entry »