Taranaki Energy Watch has filed an appeal to the Environment Court over the oil and gas rules in the proposed South Taranaki District Plan.

The environmental group is one of eight organisations, including Fonterra, the Department of Conservation and Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust, that are appealing different aspects of the plan.

Taranaki Energy Watch spokeswoman Sarah Roberts said all their issues were around the oil and gas industry.

“We employed experts in oil and gas issues to give evidence at the council’s hearing on the plan. Our experts said it was not safe to have seismic surveys using explosives as a permitted activity, it should be discretionary. Particularly because there were several cases of undetonated explosives being left in the ground and they are having to be recorded on LIM reports. It’s a health and safety issue.”

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Taranaki Energy Watch is not saying the seismic surveys shouldn’t happen, she said.

“It’s that there are not enough safeguards with issues around undetonated explosives.”

Some of Fonterra’s concerns were that the plan did not promote the sustainable management of the natural and physical resources in South Taranaki, it did not meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations, and would not enable social, economic and cultural well being of the people of South Taranaki.

Both DOC and Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust had concerns regarding the coastal environment.

Council planning manager Blair Sutherland said the appeals covered a range of issues, but the coastal environment was a consistent theme.

“In terms of preparing district plan having parts appealed is part of the process. It’s a court driven process, so we follow the court’s direction in terms of where to go from here.”

Mediation will play a large part in the process, he said.

“Hopefully we can resolve as much as we can through mediation.”.

Various other groups have since become parties to some of the appeals, he said.

“Some people are happy with plan, but that could change if the appeal wins. Some of the appeals are seeking an outcome that might affect another group in the community, who the change might not be suitable for. They’re saying, ‘if you do this to resolve the appeal that wouldn’t be suitable for us’.”

The Stratford and New Plymouth District Council have both become parties to the Taranaki Energy Watch appeal, he said.

“They have an interest in the outcome as they have similar processes to go through.”

How long the process will go on for or the cost isn’t known, Sutherland said.

“It’s early days and the decisions influences where the process goes.”

 – Stuff