23 Dec 2014

Fisheries forum slams OMV decision

5:20 am on 23 December 2014

A customary fisheries forum has slated the decision by the Environmental Protection Authority to grant a marine consent to OMV to continue its development drilling programme in the South Taranaki Bight.

The EPA decided that the overall effects of OMV's Maari and Manaia oil operations on the environment was minor, and in many cases, temporary.

But co-chairperson of Ngā Hapū o Te Uru, which was made up of hapū and marae representatives from Port Waikato to Mokau, said the company had already been given a formal warning letter for non-compliance under the new regulations.

Angeline Greensill said the forum was unhappy with the decision and under the new regulations the EPA should have made it more difficult for OMV to obtain a consent.

"You've got the blue whale foraging there and also the Maui dolphin which is internationally threatened. OMV's already breaking the rules at the moment, there's very little monitoring and they're going to get worse in the next few years.

"Given the fact that we've had oil spills already - a couple on the west coast and we've had the Rena as well, we know what happens with oil spills and that we don't respond very well. Surely if they're tightening things up they would make it more difficult to actually get the marine consent, taking into account all of the evidence."

Ms Greensill said there are not enough monitors on board the vessels to ensure the company complies with regulations and questions how the programmes would be scrutinised.

She disagreed with the EPA's finding that the effect of the drilling was minor.

"There's cumulative effects. Just imagine if we're sitting here and there's these seismic blasts going on every time you're wanting to drill and as well as that it's the continuous combined effects of everything else going on around it as well."

Any appeals must be lodged with the High Court within 15-working days.

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