The Dunedin City Council could tap into a well of
environmental fears and economic optimism when it asks the
public about the oil and gas industry.
The council has called for public submissions by November 1
to help shape its own response to consultation on the
petroleum block offer process being run by New Zealand
Petroleum and Minerals.
However, it has also questioned the decision of the
department - part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Employment - to run its consultation process during local
Council sustainability adviser Maria Ioannou, in a statement
yesterday, said the decision was ''unexpected'' and made
public consultation more difficult.
The Dunedin City Council and other councils had ''pointed out
this makes it difficult for councils to make a democratic
submission on an issue of significance'', she said.
The department had launched consultation on the 2014 block
offer, which sought to allocate petroleum exploration
permits, but brought forward its own deadline for submissions
from councils, iwi and hapu to November 14.
Consultation during an earlier block offer in 2012 ran from
November to January this year, and council staff had expected
a similar time frame this time around, she said.
Instead, they had been informed on September 18, the day
before consultation started, that it would be conducted
during local body elections and conclude on November 14.
Ms Ioannou said the council would make a submission outlining
its views on the process, but first wanted to hear the
public's views to help shape its own.
The department was consulting iwi, hapu and local authorities
around New Zealand with an interest in the exploration offers
proposed, which included the Great South and Canterbury
Companies will be invited to tender for petroleum exploration
permits, which were expected to be awarded in December next
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the issue had generated
''significant community discussion''.
''There a wide range of views, from how many jobs might be
created to the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
''We are keen to hear from our community and invite residents
to tell us what they think.''
Public submissions could shape the council's views, and each
of those received would also be attached to the council's own
submission as an appendix, he said.
Members of the public had until November 1 to make their
submission to the council, allowing the council two weeks to
complete its own ahead of NZP&M's November 14 deadline.
Public submissions to the council could be sent by email,
post, or dropped in to the council, or completed on the