Norfolk drilling pledge

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 23/06/2014

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Tag Oil says though it plans to drill up to eight wells in Norfolk, the small Taranaki district will not become the next Tikorangi.

The Canadian company has applied for consent to drill a well within 700 metres of Norfolk School, just south of Inglewood.

The initial proposal, to the Taranaki Regional Council, was for two wells, but there could be up to eight if the site goes into commercial production.

The Taranaki community of Tikorangi is the location of numerous commercial and exploration wells as and Todd Energy's $120 million Mangahewa Expansion Train 2 facility.

At a meeting in Norfolk hall on Saturday, about 30 people met to discuss the proposed drilling in Norfolk by Tag.

Though no one from the company was present at the meeting, Tag chief executive Garth Johnson told the Taranaki Daily News there was no likelihood of Norfolk becoming the next Tikorangi.

"Norfolk is a much smaller proposition."

The meeting, organised by Climate Justice Taranaki, aimed to start a conversation between community members about the effects drilling might have on the environment and livelihoods of people in the area.

Norfolk resident Kyle Smith said he was disappointed more school pupils' parents were not at the meeting, at which Tikorangi residents Fiona Clark and Margaret Smith spoke.

"It was really informative, those people have all been through it and a lot of rural Taranaki people are naive about what's happening and how quickly it happens."

"I'm not a greenie, I understand we need the oil and gas industry, but I don't like the way the companies are going about it - they should be doing it away from people's houses."

Smith said he was also disappointed with the lack of engagement with residents from both the New Plymouth District Council and the TRC.

The Norfolk Rd resident also had concerns about the environment and traffic - his home was 40m from the proposed entrance to the site and he worried that heavy traffic turning onto and off SH3, where there was a passing lane, could cause an accident.

He believed the value of his and other residents' property would drop.

If Tag Oil's consent was approved the first well was expected to be drilled in early 2015.

Johnson said there would be no truck movements past Norfolk School's gate at all, and restrictions would be put in place for the 500m from the highway to the site gate before and after school.

There would be a maximum of 30 to 36 heavy vehicles and about 20 light vehicles to and from the site a day during the construction phase, that was likely to take about six weeks.

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After that he said traffic levels would be reduced.

Johnson said there was no expected environmental impact on the school and noise would not travel from the site across SH3.

Tag was open to talking to people about their concerns and a minimal amount of infrastructure would need to built if the site was commercially viable, he said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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