9 Nov 2012

Mining opponents question consultation

9:48 am on 9 November 2012

Mining opponents are warning the Government the public should not be left out of talks about controversial plans that would allow companies to prospect for oil and gas.

The Government will begin a two-month consultation with iwi and councils over its called Block Offer which would permit exploration for energy resources on land, and off the coast.

Under the proposal, huge areas of sea off the coast of Northland, Taranaki, Canterbury and Southland, could be prospected for oil or gas. Land near Gisborne and in Taranaki could also be up for tender.

Feedback is being sought from 74 tribes and 42 councils before final decisions are made.

The chair of South Taranaki tribe Ngaruahine, Daisy Noble, says she will tell the Crown that oil drilling doesn't benefit local people.

Dunedin city councillor Jinty MacTavish says people will be disappointed if they don't get any real say.

Minister of Energy and Resources Phil Heatley says the Government is particularly interested in what iwi and councils say as they can identify areas of significant interest, such as council reserves or wahi tapu.

He says that although the wider public will not be part of the formal consultation, he expects many people will make submissions, and people can engage with officials through email.

He says a final decision on the blocks will be made in April, with permits likely to be granted by the end of next year.