In August 2011 my family was approached to sign consent for TAG Oil to drill up to 30 wells immediately beside our home and property at Ngaere. We were immediately concerned about a number of issues such as water quality, an unpleasant odour in the air, and the ground shaking.
We asked the Taranaki Regional Council about what was happening. They said not to worry about it. If we had any concerns we could talk with the oil company. I asked them for water testing. They did not have any. I asked to be considered an affected party. The consent was non-notified so there was no requirement for them to do so.
Over the last two years I have been raising concerns about what appears to be a myriad of problems within TRC, particularly in relation to oil and gas activities. The consenting process, the lack of public engagement, the timing of the applications,the regulating and monitoring, the lack of independent oversight, conflicts of interest with the industries and the Council themselves, the flaring, the breaching of consents, the water quality, land-farming, deepwell injection, hydraulic fracturing…
Many issues…same Council. We are on the middle of a massive expansion of the petrochemical industry in Taranaki (and New Zealand). New Plymouth is not exempt. Exploration permits cover the city, airport and Bell Block. We need to be prepared. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s final report is due at the end of the year. I am strongly advocating a precautionary and planned approach to ensure the safety of our communities and the environment.