Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has slammed the Government's decision
to waive notification of exploratory deep-sea drilling.
Environment Minister Amy Adams yesterday announced activities
involved in exploratory drilling for oil and gas will be
classified as non-notified discretionary, under new
regulations which come into effect today.
Mr Cull said the move was inconsistent with the Resource
Management Act (RMA), which dealt with land-based activities.
''This [Economic Exclusion Zone Act regulation] is saying we
don't care who might be affected. We'll set up a body to
decide if an activity has effects, and that's taking it away
from the public.''
Mr Cull said he was not taking sides over exploratory
drilling, but he felt the new regulations were preemptive.
''I find it hard to believe you can carte blanche say it
doesn't matter where or how you drill, activities will be
non-notified. I think it's unfortunate to prejudge whether
activities might have effects,'' he said.
Greenpeace energy campaigner Steve Abel said the exploratory
phase of drilling was the most dangerous, and the Government
had stripped away New Zealanders' chance to formally oppose
''This is a cowardly move from a Government doing the bidding
of foreign oil companies,'' he said.
Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Niamh O'Flynn, of Dunedin, said
the classification ruling was in line with the Government's
''shutting people out of the process more and more''.
If people were unable to make submissions on proposed
were more likely to be involved in public protest to get
their view across.
''It does mean we need to be more creative in the way we
choose to oppose it [exploratory drilling]. Protesting
becomes a more important way of dealing with this issue
because formal channels are being shut down.''
Public protest against exploratory drilling off Otago's coast
would continue, she said.
Ms Adams said the non-notified discretionary classification
was a ''pragmatic'' option for exploratory drilling, and
would ''provide a level of regulation proportionate to its
''The classification will provide effective oversight and
environmental safeguards without burdening industry with
excessive costs and timeframes,'' she said.
Ms Adams said an operator would have to apply for a separate
consent to produce oil or gas, and that consent would be
subject to public consultation.