Village gives NP mayor the not-so-good oil

New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven had his ear chewed by Tikorangi residents during what was intended to be a casual mayoral chat yesterday.

More than 30 passionate residents gathered at the Tikorangi Hall to express their views on the effect oil and gas exploration is having on the community.

Mr Duynhoven and New Plymouth District Council strategy and policy general manager Frank Versteeg were fronted with comments regarding damaged roads, noise pollution, water and pasture contamination, and safety issues regarding Tikorangi School and the continual flow of heavy traffic.

Prominent oil and gas protester Abbie Jury requested an update on the go-ahead of the Kowhai C well site on Otaraoa Rd, where Greymouth Petroleum has applied for permission to drill up to eight wells.

At a council meeting last month, Ms Jury told councillors the North Taranaki community could live with all the other oil and gas sites in the area but Greymouth Petroleum's proposed Kowhai C site was too close to the centre of the village.

"It's still on hold really," Mr Versteeg said.

"We're still looking at some of the issues. It's not progressed at all basically at this stage."

Following letter upon letter to local MPs and central government, and no action, Ms Jury asked Mr Duynhoven whether the oil companies could ever be stopped.

Mr Duynhoven could not say if that was possible.

"If their actions are legal and authorised by Government, and they comply with all the things required, then the activity can go ahead.

"The fact is we have no choice; they are here. The Government has permitted them. It's the conditions around which they're permitted that we have to tighten up on as a community."

Mr Duynhoven said it was up to the council to look at each oil and gas application and ask whether it was reasonable for the community to put up with when accepting them.

"The clear message I'm getting today is that we need to be even tighter than we have been on that."

Taranaki Daily News