The New Plymouth District Council says it can not make oil and gas companies go through bigger hurdles than anyone else applying for resource consent.
The council's consent manager, Ralph Broad, acknowledges some residents are affected by the traffic, noise and light caused by wells being dug in their communities.
Yet the council does not have to include them in the consent process, if they are not directly affected.
"They might stand up and say 'we're affected, we should be a part of the process', but we've got no legal means to include them."
All but one of the wells for which the council has given consent have been non-notified.