Oil and gas protesters to take to Napier streets

By Lawrence Gullery

Where: Clive Square, Napier

When: 9:30am

A march on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Napier office is planned today to protest the public's exclusion from a meeting with the Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges over the development of an oil and gas industry for the Bay.

Mr Bridges will be in town to talk with the region's mayors, chairs, councillors and council staff, as well as the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting has not been opened to the public, a move that outraged lobby group Don't Frack The Bay. It has organised "A Rally of Hope II" from Napier's Clive Square to the regional council's office on Dalton St where the meeting will be held.

Rally organiser Paul Bailey hoped the "peaceful rally" would achieve an impromptu meeting with the minister, where the group could hand over a letter asking for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration.

He said the moratorium should be put in place until the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright's questions on oil and gas drilling on the East Coast were answered.

The letter also asked that the oil and gas industry earn its "social licence to operate" by being more open and ethical in the way it operated. It also wanted East Coast communities to have a chance to decide the extent and pace of development of the petroleum industry.

Mr Bailey said the visit by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Mr Bridges to launch an East Coast oil-and-gas study in March gave the impression the public would be kept informed of every new development or meeting.

"The Chamber of Commerce has been invited to this meeting so we should be invited as well. The rally will be a peaceful demonstration allowing us to voice our displeasure at the way the introduction of the oil and gas industry into Hawke's Bay is being managed."

Mr Bailey said he believed there would be a large turnout of people for the rally.

Mr Bridges' office said the meeting would update aspects of the East Coast study and said it was not open to the public.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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