Board raises concerns on oil drilling

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 12:42 06/12/2013

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Residents continue to raise their voices on deep sea oil drilling.

The Waitakere Ranges Local Board is leading the charge after a vote to write to Minister of Energy Resources Simon Bridges, voicing their concerns about the potential impact of drilling off the west coast on the coastline and environment.

"We ask you not to risk the catastrophe that an oil spill would create by issuing exploration permits. Auckland has invested too much in protecting this coast to see it put at risk by petroleum drilling," the letter states.

Submissions to Block Offer 2014 - the process of awarding gas and oil exploration permits - were due by November 14.

The board could not make a submission because the local body elections occurred during that time.

Waitakere Ranges Local Board chairwoman Sandra Coney says in the event of an oil spill, cleanup measures would be hampered.

"A lot of the area is parkland and there is very limited access to the coast. There are many places where beaches and rocky platforms are reachable only on foot, or not at all."

The main concerns of the board are the impact oil drilling could have on the landscape, wildlife, Maui's dolphin and the west's regionally significant and protected surf breaks.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesman Britton Broun says the submission process for block offers is not open to the wider public.

"Under the Crown Minerals Act, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals have a statutory requirement to consult with iwi and hapu. While not statutorily required under the act to consult further, we do inform and seek feedback from local authorities who are geographically associated with the areas for consultation."

He also says the awarding of tenders for exploratory drilling will not occur until late next year. Resource consents will also be needed to drill the wells.

"This is all dependant on petroleum being found, which may not be the case. Also the final permits awarded from Block Offer 2014 may not be in your area. If any wells were drilled, it would be years away," Mr Broun says.

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