19 Mar 2013

Residents mull next step after oil drilling approved

9:44 am on 19 March 2013

Tararua residents are holding an emergency meeting to discuss possible legal action aimed at blocking an oil company from drilling for oil and gas in their backyards.

Tag Oil is to begin work immediately on two wells near Dannevirke after being granted council consents to drill wells and bores on private land.

The company has been granted separate consents by the Tararua District Council and Manawatu-WhanganuiRegional Council for the oil rigs to be built.

But it will have to apply for more permits if it wants to start fracking, which involves forcing large quantities of toxic chemicals into rock.

Donald James, who farms in the region, said Tag Oil has not been completely open with its plans to search for oil or whether fracking will eventually be used.

He said the company put through separate applications for consents instead of bundling them together, which he believes would have put more pressure on the council to notify the public.

A Tararua farmer close to where the oil rig is being built told Radio New Zealand he was worried the company could start drilling right underneath his property.

He says that could disrupt his water supply, causing huge problems in the drought-stricken area.

Some farmers are already consulting lawyers about legal action, and residents will meet on Tuesday to discuss their next step.

Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui said it wasn't consulted about Tag Oil's plans to dump waste from the Tararua site in its area.

Tag Oil said fracking won't be used on the exploratory drill which it plans to start immediately.