Oil giant Statoil is wasting its time by having meetings in Northland, opponents of deep sea drilling off its west coast say.
But the Northland Regional Council says the workshops will be a chance to gain a clear view of the Norwegian company's plans in the region.
The NRC has organised two closed workshops tomorrow to provide councillors, the Te Tai Tokerau Maori Advisory Committee and senior staff with a clear view of the regulations governing petroleum exploration, as well as Statoil's plans in the Northland region.
But opponents have expressed frustration about the visit and will protest outside the NRC's Water St, Whangarei office.
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Mike Smith, a member of the Far North delegation involved the protest, said Statoil was wasting its time.
"The company is engaging with Maori groups around Northland, attempting to greenwash their activities, " he said.
Tomorrow's protest will add to the many others that have been held to oppose Statoil, which has been granted two exploration permits by the Government, about 100km off the Northland coast. The first workshop will consist of a morning session, with government agencies invited to attend, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Maritime NZ, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (a branch of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), the Ministry for the Environment, Worksafe New Zealand and the Department of Conservation. This will be followed by an afternoon session with representatives of Statoil.
The second workshop, at a date to be confirmed, will give those who oppose oil exploration time to present information and ask questions. NRC chairman Bill Shepherd said the council had a responsibility to be well informed on the issue.
"We have a responsibility to understand the roles and functions of the multiple different regulators - which include regional and district councils - and how they mesh together, as well as what the industry needs to do to obtain the necessary permits and consents to operate in New Zealand's offshore waters."
He said the council had decided to make the workshops closed to allow information to be presented and questions answered in a structured manner. Northland police operations manager Inspector Marty Ruth said police were working with the NRC and representatives of the protest group to ensure there was a balance between the right to protest peacefully and maintaining order.