Residents upset over new well site

Michele Ong, Taranaki Daily News, writes:

A group of angry Stratford residents who believe they were not properly consulted over a proposed new well site showed up in full force at an independent hearing yesterday.

The matter was heard before commissioner Greg Carlyon at the Stratford District Council in determining whether Tag Oil had acted within reason when submitting for new well site Cheal G, at Ngaere’s Finnerty Rd.

Tag Oil hopes to construct a well site and potentially drill up to 12 wells from the site and install pipelines from the well site to existing production facilities.

The proposed Cheal G site is 4.7km south of the Stratford urban area.

Potentially affected residents Murray Blue and his partner Marie Pepperell, Stephen Uhlenberg, Lynette Coombe, Owen Perrett and community advocate Sarah Roberts, wanted Tag Oil to “consider the effects” of the activity on the surrounding environment before land use can be granted.

In a consent report, SDC identified 10 affected properties that would be affected by noise due to their proximity to the well site.

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui’s and Dr Blue’s property were among those marked.

However, properties beyond those identified were deemed by the council as not subjected to noise levels that exceed district plan activity standards.

Dr Blue said the drilling phase has the potential to generate high levels of noise from actual drilling rig and its associated diesel generator.

“I have a business focusing on breeding and foaling thoroughbred and standardbred horses, sport horses and ponies,” he said.

“Sudden noises around horses are well recognised as a source of disruption and the time of foaling is an especially sensitive time, probably more so than in an other domesticated animal.”

Marshall Day Acoustics (MDA) associate Damian Ellerton said in a submission his Christchurch colleagues have observed horses grazing in paddocks directly under the main approach of the Christchurch International Airport, where noise levels exceed 90 decibel.

“My colleague noted that while these horses may be used to the noise, there was generally little recognition by them of aircraft passing, nor showing any sign of disturbance,” Mr Ellerton said.

Dr Blue said Mr Ellerton’s colleagues could have told him of the “pandemonium created” by the noise of Guy Fawkes celebrations with “serious consequences” to many animals.

Tag Oil New Zealand country manager Randy Toone said the oil company was committed to best practice operations, and would ensure all potential adverse effects on surrounding landowners were adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated.

The hearing was adjourned until October 4 for Tag Oil to prepare a noise management plan. A decision will be made within a week from the hearing.


“Group of residents fighting a further oil/gas site…A Taranaki woman says her daughter was offered large sums by a Canadian oil company to drop her opposition to it drilling, and say nothing about it.”