Tararua farmers stage fracking protest

By Christine McKay

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Drilling for oil in Tararua is going to "bugger my environment", farmer Ian Livingstone says.

Mr Livingstone, who farms 32 hectares adjacent to the Tag Oil well site, was one of about 50 protesters who marched to the Ngapaeruru Rd site yesterday.

"We feel cheated because we've been kept out of the loop and it bugs us they've just come and started work and we've been kept in the dark," Mr Livingstone said.

The perceived risk to the environment was made worse by the noise pollution as the well site is built.

"We've had trucks carting metal between 6am and 7pm and hear the noise of bulldozers working on the site during the night. This place has become a dust pit," he said.

"The trucks travel well over 40km an hour and even cart on public holidays."

The Livingstones believed the value of their land would plummet.

"This exploration is going to bugger our environment because we rely on springs and gravity-fed dams to feed our stock," son, David Livingstone said.

Farmers, Tony Curren and his wife, Jocelyn, have similar fears for their land.

"We're indirect neighbours, but if fracking went ahead we'd be in the two-kilometre radius," Mrs Curren said "The oil companies can't guarantee anything and the lack of consultation has been an issue. If the companies have nothing to hide, why don't they speak out?"

Locals

march

against

oil well

Mr Curren said he was concerned the affect a possible oil discovery would have on his farming operations.

"The implications are huge," he said.

"We have a lot invested in our farm and if an oil find pushed the exchange rate up, it would lower the value of our exports.

"Just at the moment it's only one well, but how many more are to come?"

The Currens said oil exploration could divide the community and families.

"How do we know where all this will stop?" Mrs Curren asked.

Hawke's Bay Today understands up to 17 trucks carting metal have been seen on the roads some days.

"Families are concerned for the safety of their children travelling to school," Donald James, of Weber, said.

"There's no room on those small, winding roads, so now people along Mangahei and Ngapaeruru Roads are starting to really feel the effects of those big trucks.

"There are some pretty unhappy people who are taking their concerns to the Tararua District Council."

Jane Smart had travelled from Napier to join the march because she wanted to show support to the people of the Tararua.

"I believe the oil industry is going to put communities at risk. In this earthquake-prone area it's just asking for trouble.

"All we want is a voice. We want our views heard," she said.

Also supporting the Tararua was James Whioke of Wellington.

"I can't see any benefits for the Tararua from oil exploration, it's just like holding a gun to Dannevirke because in the end everyone will pay a high price," he said.

No representatives from the Tararua District Council or Tag Oil were present yesterday.

 

- Hawkes Bay Today

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