Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Government sets best-practice fracking guidelines

Taranaki gas & oil drilling rigg. Photo / HBT
Taranaki gas & oil drilling rigg. Photo / HBT

The Government has just set best-practice guidelines for fracking in various parts of the country.

But the Greens have said the timing of its release shows disrespect to Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright who is due to release her final report on fracking in two months.

And MP Gareth Hughes said the Government should be developing statutory standards, not just guidelines.

Environment Minister Amy Adams said the guidelines clarified the regulatory roles of central and local government relating to fracking and gave guidance to local government to manage activity under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The guidelines covered the lifecycle of onshore petroleum wells from initial seismic surveying to decommissioning.

"The guidelines clarify the responsibilities of councils from initial investigation and planning to consenting and will support councils so that environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are managed appropriately across the country."

The Ministry for the Environment would be monitoring the effectiveness of the guidelines as they were implemented over the next year.

Fracking is the term given to hydraulic fracturing, or injecting water and chemicals into rock at high pressure to fracture it and release hydro-carbon fluids.

The report draws heavily on the experience in Taranaki where fracking has occurred for about 25 years.

Mr Hughes said the guidelines were pre-empting Jan Wright's final fracking report - her interim report recommending no ban on fracking was released in November 2012.

"It does seem premature and a little disrespectful of her multi-year investigation to not even wait for those results."

"The Government has been more focused on cheer-leading for fracking than an actually providing rules."

There were nothing in the guidelines that would stop cows being put in to paddocks that had been spread with oil and gas waste.

Amy Adams' spokesman said the guidelines had been released now to ''inform" the commissioner's final report and that her interim report had highlighted the fact that there were no guidelines.

Jan Wright made her own submission towards the guidelines, her spokesman said, and she had no view about the timing of their release.

- APNZ

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