Mayor seeks vote over oil, gas plan

By Lawrence Gullery

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Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule will promote his idea of holding an oil and gas summit in Hawke's Bay when his councillors meet to discuss its merits tomorrow.

The summit would provide an opportunity for experts to present on the pros and cons of the exploration and development of oil and gas on the East Coast of the North Island.

Mr Yule, in his report to the council, said the proposal to hold a summit came from the high level of interest in oil and gas explorations from ratepayers.

People were worried about the impacts on the environment while others wanted to clarify the economic and social benefits which could come out of exploration, particularly in the Hastings district.

The summit would also follow the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's study released in March, on East Coast oil and gas development, considered to be the first step to stimulate discussion on the benefits and risks.

Mr Yule said recent data from Statistics New Zealand showed the East Coast and Hawke's Bay faced "significant challenges" and the region needed to investigate opportunities such as oil and gas exploration to turn its fortunes around.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's study suggested the economic benefits could range from $360 million to $18 billion.

"However any exploration and development of oil and gas must not pose a risk to the Heretaunga aquifer as the aquifer not only underpins our farming, orchard and wine growing industries.

"It also supplies our communities and supports many of our community's recreational activities."

A summit, similar to the one on the GMO topic hosted by the Hastings District Council, would invite expert speakers to share information about the impacts and opportunities of oil and has exploration.

Speakers could include people from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Oil and Gas, Hawke's Bay Regional Council as well as others from Taranaki to talk about the oil industry on the West Coast of the North Island.

The council will vote whether to hold the summit at its meeting tomorrow.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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