The battle lines have been drawn in Taraua District, it would seem.
The decision by the Horizons Regional Council to give TAG Oil the resource consent to drill two exploratory oil wells on private land is almost certain to stir up controversy.
Fracking is not included in the consent, but opponents to oil and gas exploration are not convinced that will remain the case.
Donald James, a spokesman for landowners fighting the exploration, reckons that "from the nature of the rock here, you have to frack". So it seems like the fierce fracking/oil and gas exploration debate that raged last year will be reignited. Mr James says the consent is already turning neighbours against each other with people being asked to sign confidentiality forms about drilling on their land.
TAG is assuring everyone that it will strive to leave the "smallest possible environmental footprint" when it begins drilling, but there is a fair amount of scepticism from opponents. Dr Nic Peet, group manager strategy and regulation for Horizons Regional Council, said the consents were not notifiable under the Resource Management Act because the environmental effects were deemed to be minor.
If this is guaranteed then I am sure many people would be keen to see what the potential is. At this stage it is probably best to keep an open mind on this subject. While no one wants to see our beautiful landscape scarred, who wouldn't want to see our jobless employed and our economy healthy. A recent government report said East Coast communities would be boosted by $2 billion annually if an industry similar to Taranaki's was developed.
It is going to be an interesting battle. The key is to do what is best for Hawke's Bay.