Deep sea oil drilling off Canterbury coast 'sheer lunacy', Vicki Buck says
Legal action to stop deep-sea oil drilling off the Canterbury coast should be explored, Christchurch's acting mayor Vicki Buck says.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals (NZPAM), the government agency responsible for managing the country's oil, gas, mineral and coal resources, is proposing to open more than quarter of a million square kilometres of seabed along New Zealand's east coast to oil companies.
It is seeking comment from local authorities and iwi on its proposed 2016 block offer, which includes a large offshore area stretching from South Canterbury to Banks Peninsula.
The council has voiced its opposition in the past to deep sea oil drilling off the Canterbury coast and is now drafting a fresh submission outlining its concerns.
That submission raises concerns about the environmental and economic consequences of an off-shore oil spill and says the value of Banks Peninsula's outstanding and unique environment would be put at risk from petroleum exploration and production off-shore from the coast.
At Thursday's infrastructure, transport and environment committee meeting, Buck, who is vehemently opposed to the "sheer lunacy" of deep sea drilling off the Canterbury coast, said the council should be talking to its lawyers to see if there was anything it could do, beyond making a submission, to disrupt the Government's block offer.
"It is just so dangerous. We trade on 100% pure. We want to put all of that at jeopardy for something we get no economic return?"
Oil Free Otautahi spokeswoman Bridget White told the committee they had collected more than 500 signatures in a week from people who wanted the council to take a strong stance against deep sea oil drilling.
"Collecting over 500 signatures in two weeks shows that our community really cares about this issue, and now it's up to the council to show this to the Government," White said.
"The areas up for offer are concerningly close to the Banks Peninsula marine mammal sanctuary. An oil spill in this area could be devastating to the wonderful biodiversity just off our coastline.
"This area is almost sacred and we should be protecting it at all costs."