New Zealand Council Votes Against Offshore Drilling
New Zealand capital Auckland has seen a move to stop offshore drilling in the area. Auckland Council’s governing body has voted to oppose the proposed offering of petroleum exploration permit applications in the Northland-Reinga and Taranaki Basins.
In a lengthy debate on the economic merits and environmental effects of oil exploration, the Council voted in favour of an amendment to oppose the offering and issuing of prospecting, exploration and drilling permits in 2017.
The Council cited the potential effects on the Maui dolphin and its habitat, impacts on climate change and the negligible overall economic benefits for Auckland.
The Council’s submission to government states: “Auckland welcomes 72 percent of all visitors to the country, and has a strategy to grow the value of the visitor economy to $7.23 billion by 2021. A blowout event would damage our international reputation as an urban destination with ready access to unspoiled natural environments, and undermine achieving this aspirational target.”
In the event of the government proceeding with the issuing of permits, the body will request mitigation measures and will also seek the government’s assurance that, in the event of an oil spill, full emergency response systems are in place and that the polluter responsible will bear the entire financial liability for the incident, including any and all costs associated with environmental mitigation.
The Council’s decision follows a similar one made in the last few weeks by Christchurch Council, with Kaikoura, Dunedin and Gisborne councils also opposing offshore oil activity.
Local media report Mike Smith from Greenpeace as saying that the move is a sign of a health democracy with councils listening to their communities who are waking up to the danger of continuing to burn fossil fuels.
The Council’s submission to government is available here.