Critics speak against fracking

By Sam Hurley

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Anti-fracking lobby group Don't Frack the Bay held an information evening for people living in the Rissington area last night at Omatua Guide Hall.

About 50 landowners attended a similar meeting at Sherenden Hall last week and learnt how the Marauder Resources drilling zone could affect them and the community.

In a May visit to Hawke's Bay, Prime Minister John Key said an oil and gas industry would boost Hawke's Bay's economy in a similar way to Taranaki. The permit area, granted in November 2012, extends from Whirinaki to Willowford through Kereru to Puketapu and includes Sherenden and Rissington.

Key said there had been no environmental problems in Taranaki and Hawke's Bay should be no different. If opportunities in the Bay for oil and gas were pursued, they would prove to be a boon for the province.

Speakers last night included Donald James, a land owner affected by the drilling in Dannevirke by TAG Oil, and Tom Burgess, health practitioner in Waipukurau, who had been living the past four years amongst sick and sickened people in Queensland. He said he saw first-hand the physical health effects from exposure to chemicals, and mental health effects from lost control and value of their land, and supported the "Lock the Gate" campaign, involving thousands, to assert their landowners' rights.

"It appears there was a law for the gas and oil companies and one law for the landowners and farmers," said Mr Burgess. "There is a huge amount of noise and air pollution. When they say the oil industry will create a boon for the region and everyone they are not telling the full story."

He said in particular rural properties and farmers would suffer from fracking.

"The price of rural properties dropped like a stone if you were anywhere near an oil rig," he said. "One of the worst things about this industry is that it divides the community."

"When they say it will create lots of jobs for local people we have to ask the question who here will be qualified to work in the oil industry? Not many."

Filipa Hope spoke from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environments interim report November 2012, which highlighted the lack of regulation and standards in the country and the yet unanswered questions posed to the East Coast communities on the dangers of drilling/fracking particular to the area's seismic activity and economic reliance on aquifers.

Ms Hope also spoke about landowners' rights to say no to access for oil exploration on their land, and referred landowners to the document prepared by the Environmental Defence Society: Oil and Gas The Legal Framework.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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