Editorial: Oil, gas loom as poll issue

By Lawrence Gullery

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Major issues are beginning to emerge as potential deal-breakers for people deciding how they should vote at this year's council elections in October.

Anti-fracking lobbyists will surely make oil and gas exploration their No1 election issue when it comes to deciding who should represent them on regional councils in Manawatu, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne in October. In the past week there have been two oil and gas exploration protest rallies, one in Napier and another in Dannevirke just yesterday, asking for caution on underground testing.

Don't Frack The Bay rallied from Napier city to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council office last week but the group is unlikely to achieve its wish: a moratorium on oil and gas exploration.

The idea was rejected by the Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges who met briefly with about 80 protesters outside the regional council offices.

Mr Bridges was on a two-day trip visiting councils as a follow-up on the Government's East Coast oil and gas study launched in March.

He was keen to hear the opinions of councillors but had no time, this visit, to take in the views of the community. That, he promised, could be achieved at later visits.

The exclusion of the public left protesters frustrated at not being able to tell the minister first-hand of their concerns for the environment.

No doubt they'll be weighing up their options to decide which councillors can best represent their views on a new regional council to be elected in six months.

People welcome the promise of jobs and economic growth that an oil and gas industry could bring. But what they also want is evidence the industry can be managed without impact on the environment.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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