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Applications for fracking 'inevitable'

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 12/12/2012

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Applications to carry out fracking in Tararua are inevitable and could cross the desks at the Horizons Regional Council as soon as early next year.

Regional councillors discussed fracking, an oil and gas drilling technique also known as hydraulic fracturing, at a strategy and policy committee meeting yesterday.

Councillor Jill White said it was inevitable the council would receive an application to carry out fracking in Tararua.

"We're going to have to be, as a council, well prepared," she said.

The council needed to be sure it had the knowledge to respond to such applications, she said.

"If we get the inevitable applications we need to be confident in what we say [in response]."

Horizons group manager of strategy and regulation Nic Peet presented to the council the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's interim report into the environmental impacts of fracking in New Zealand.

Fracking is a method of retrieving oil and gas by injecting fluid-containing chemicals and sand into rocks to break them up.

Several councillors expressed concern about the costs of educating staff about fracking and of hiring consultants to assess resource consent applications.

Mr Peet said staff had been visiting fracking operations already under way in Taranaki and talking to their colleagues there.

Any costs associated with resource consent applications would be covered by the companies making them, he said.

The committee also discussed yesterday a resource consent application received from American-owned Tag Oil to carry out exploratory drilling around Dannevirke.

Tag Oil already has consent for some wells and bores around Dannevirke. The new consent application, if approved, would allow it to look at land on Ngapaeruru Rd and Mangahei Rd as well.

The company had been asked to provide more information for its consent. Mr Peet said that information could arrive in early January when no council meetings were scheduled. So he asked that staff be given the authority to decide whether the consents would be publicly notified.

All but two councillors at the meeting gave staff that authority, with Cr White one of the dissenting voices. She warned about the danger of not consulting with the public at the start of a multi-stage process that could result in a resource consent application for fracking in Tararua.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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