Opponents of hydraulic fracturing being used for oil exploration in Hawke's Bay say it is becoming the most contentious issue in New Zealand since the nuclear-free debate in the 1980s.
The technique, known as fracking, is the subject of almost 40% of the 640 submissions regional councillors are considering this week as part of a draft 10-year plan for Hawke's Bay.
Hastings orchardist Filipa Hope told councillors on Thursday that water pollution from fracking would severely affect Hawke's Bay's key export industries.
Ms Hope says people's health and quality of life would also suffer.
Richard Ryan, from Havelock North, said environmental damage from fracking cannot be reversed.
The majority of submitters against fracking want the plan altered and it declared a prohibited activity.