17 Jul 2013

Landowners told about oil exploration permits

9:47 am on 17 July 2013

A Hawke's Bay anti-oil exploration group says many landowners are unaware that permits have been granted for oil and gas exploration in their areas.

The group Don't Frack The Bay hosted a public meeting on Tuesday night in the remote settlement of Kereru.

Spokesperson Filipa Hope says often their meetings are the first time farmers have heard they live in an oil exploration permit zone.

Ms Hope says there's little information available for residents and on what to do if an oil company comes knocking on their door.

She says her group is encouraging farmers to talk to their neighbours and deal with oil companies as a community rather than individually.

Dannevirke sheep and beef farmer Donald James dealt with an oil company that wanted to drill on his land.

He told the meeting farmers often felt disempowered by that process, but they can say no to a company wanting to enter their property.

The Tararua District Mayor, Roly Ellis, says TAG Oil has just finished three months of drilling an exploratory well east of Dannevirke, and it led to economic benefits for the region.

Mr Ellis says about 30 people stayed in motels and hotels in Dannevirke, while eight locals were directly employed in jobs such as security and catering.

He said about 80% of locals believe the oil industry will help boost the economy, at a time when traditional sectors such as sheep and beef farming are struggling.