Deep-sea drilling opposition growing

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014

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A growing number of Geraldine residents are taking a stand against deep-sea drilling and fracking.

Thirty-eight people attended a public meeting in the town on Sunday, the largest turnout since the information meetings started.

Greenpeace, which initiated the meetings, plans to host 10 more. It has had seven so far.

The latest meeting informed the public about exploratory permits, which have been granted for more than 3600 square kilometres in South Canterbury for fracking, said Ines Stager, co-founder of No Fracking No Deep Sea Oil South Canterbury.

"It was a successful meeting with most people signing up to be involved in opposing offshore deep-sea oil and potential onshore hydraulic fracturing in the South Canterbury region."

New Zealand permits allow drilling to depths of up to 3 kilometres below the sea, more than twice the depth involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, which was 1500 metres, she said.

"The oil spill not only devastated the fishing and tourism industry, most of the cleanup costs, of around US$40 billion, were carried by the taxpayer.

"In context, the New Zealand Government only requests corporations like Anadarko to pay $10 million should there be a spill in our waters. It is also important to note that if we want to keep global temperature rises below two degrees, we need to keep 80 per cent of existing reserves in the ground."

Orari Opihi Pareora zone committee member Ad Sintenie also attended the latest meeting to discuss concerns.

"Today we have a big problem in our region with declining water quality and loss of biodiversity as a result of recent and unconstraint change of land use," he said.

"As a community we have to give our community leaders, regulators and government a very clear, loud and urgent message, that we don't accept now and in [the] future, compromises for the sake of unsustainable short-term gains."

A demonstration to highlight the issues will take place at Caroline Bay on February 15.

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- The Timaru Herald

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