Tag given consent to drill 6 wells

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Tag Oil has been given the go ahead for a new wellsite in Stratford.

It has received consent to drill six wells at the Southern Cross wellsite at 254 Cross Rd, Wharehuia.

A consent hearing was held in November after Cross Rd residents Robin and Shirley Turner, whose home was next to the proposed wellsite, refused to give written approval to Tag for Southern Cross.

The couple had a number of concerns, including noise and regulations around hazardous substances.

But a major sticking point at the hearing was over construction work on Cross Rd.

The Stratford District Council wanted an upgrade of the road before production, but Tag Oil New Zealand country manager Randy Toone said at the time the oil company would walk away from the wellsite if the upgrade was a condition of the consent.

The council estimated the work would cost $380,000, quite a distance from Tag's estimate of $800,000.

In his decision, commissioner Greg Carlyon said the figure quoted by the council was incorrect. "It appears that the figure provided to the hearing was out by a significant quantum and the hearing is unable to rely on the figures provided."

He went on to say further estimates from the council were closer to Tag's figure.

In his conditions to granting the consent Mr Carlyon said a detailed pre-construction assessment of Cross Rd needed to be done by a "suitably qualified independent third party engineer," who had experience in Taranaki. The cost of the engineer would be split between Tag and the council.

Stratford District Council community and environmental services manager Mike Avery said he could not comment on the incorrect roading figures.

"The whole discussion of what was being proposed and requested developed during the hearing."

Tag Oil chief operating officer Drew Cadenhead said his company always worked hard to lessen the impact of its operations.

"In regard to roading we had some initial disagreement with the council with what we thought was required. We accept what the commissioner has imposed."

Tag was required to build a 2m fence at the Turners' home and double glaze rooms on the north and east sides of their house. The Turners can appeal the decision.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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