Residents oppose Tag Oil project

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2012

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The prospect of another Tag Oil production station opening up near Ngaere has spurred its neighbours into action.

The Canadian oil company fronted a one-day resource consent hearing at the Stratford District Council chamber yesterday to face half a dozen concerned residents who want the brakes put on its intentions to expand production.

The company is seeking permission to build a two-hectare production station at its Cheal-C site off Brookes Rd.

Landowner David Dent cited noise and visual pollution, loss of property value, flaring and disruption caused by an increase in heavy traffic for his opposition.

Mr Dent, who has properties near both Cheal-C and A, said the company's assurance that flaring would be done only in an emergency, or during start-up and shut-down, didn't stack up with reality.

He said he was told there would only be a "bit of flaring during well testing" when Cheal-A's production station came online.

But it was now flaring "24/7" and there must have been "a hell of an emergency going on".

"The report is not at all precise about flaring at [this] site," he said.

He would accept nothing less than a zero tolerance stance on flaring, total compensation to property owners for negative cumulative effects on amenity and property values, and wanted the consent process stopped until they were put in place.

Fellow resident Kevin Morresey expressed his concern about the number of trucks that would use the road.

Tag Oil production and facilities manager James Watchorn said a flare chamber coupled with a 5.5-metre bund and landscaping work would "minimise any potential adverse effects to the environment".

"Tag acknowledges the potential short-term disturbances to our neighbours at the Cheal C site during the potential construction of a production station," he said.

"We will be doing everything that we can to minimise truck movements on Brookes Rd."

Far from being a done deal the size and scale represented the "worst-case scenario" for its neighbours as the company still had to find out the well's full potential, Watchorn said.

"It is early in our development of the Cheal C site, but given that we are committed to spend further millions of dollars exploring for oil and gas, we need to ensure we have the ability to get these products to market," he said.

Lawyer Scott Grieve, representing Tag Oil, said although some of the submitters' evidence fell outside the hearing's scope there was room for the two groups to work together.

Trucks would operate only between 7am and 7pm, a 60kmh speed restriction would be in place, and there would be no more than 24 truck movements a day, Mr Grieve said.

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The hearing was adjourned.

Commissioner Michael Lester was unable to indicate when a decision would be made.

- Taranaki Daily News

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