Bid to keep 'No Drill' sign on Quarantine Is jetty

An anti-oil drilling sign on the jetty of Quarantine Island, considered advertising by the Otago Regional Council, will remain until an appeal to the Environment Court for a ''stay'' is decided.

The sign, which has been up since October, says ''No Drill'' but this month the regional council issued the St Martin Island Community with an abatement notice instructing it to take it down.

The regional council considered the sign ''advertising'' which was not allowed under the jetty's coastal permit.

Community secretary Francine Vella said the community's members were surprised by the notice, wondering why the council would worry about a small group of people raising an environmental issue.

''The RMA legislation is effects-based - this signage is all about reducing our environmental effects','' Ms Vella said.

The idea to put up the sign came from the community after a workshop it had initiated with Oil Free Otago to learn about what it saw as an environmental issue important to them, she said.

''We just put up a sign on a jetty belonging to us.''

After considering the abatement notice, the group decided to appeal the notice to the Environment Court, asking for a ''stay'' so the sign could remain. Regional council environmental monitoring and operations director Jeff Donaldson said that the jetty's consent did not allow advertising.

The council received a complaint about the sign in December and was required to act on it as the sign breached its conditions, he said.

''We sought a legal opinion which deemed it is an advertisement, whether it's an opinion or an idea.''

The action was not because of what the sign said or the politics around oil drilling, he said.

''That is irrelevant. It is a form of visual pollution.''

Similar issues were raised last year about election signs on jetties and in most cases people removed the sign, Mr Donaldson said.

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