Two somewhat different lobbying approaches appear to have produced reasonably pro-environmental results for the Hastings District long term plan (LTP).

On the fracking issue, the approach has been numbers and intensity. Heaps of people in the Hastings District and elsewhere in the Bay are justifiably alarmed at the threat fracking could pose to the region’s aquifers (along with other adverse environmental impacts). They have spoken out loudly and repeatedly to our councils.

The heat they’ve created was enough to cause Mayor Lawrence Yule to issue a clarifying statement when this HB Today headline — Mayor says fracking could be worth trillion — cast him as the greatest champion of oil drilling since John D. Rockefeller. His statement is pasted below.

Basically, the HDC has elected to wait out the fracking report of the Commissioner on the Environment, due before year’s end. Not that HDC would play much of a formal role in authorising (or not) or setting conditions on fracking … that’s the Regional Council’s turf. Nevertheless, there’s political significance in HDC recognising that its water might be more important than any oil the district might be sitting on.

A different lobbying approach has been taken by Pure Hawke’s Bay, which is lobbying to keep Hawke’s Bay GE (or GMO) Free.

This group has spent the past year quietly approaching and educating the Hawke’s Bay farming and growing community, starting with the heaviest hitters and stressing the economic benefits of codifying Hawke’s Bay as a GE Free region, as opposed to featuring the associated environmental and health issues. And they’ve been quite successful, winning important allies from all sectors — livestock, horticulture, viticulture.

Certainly they’ve won the attention of the Hastings Council, whose ag sector constituency produces most of what HB grows. With a critical mass of ag leaders signed on, Pure Hawke’s Bay then proceeded to document the breadth of support for their GE Free proposition, commissioning a statistically defensible random sample survey from polling firm Colmar Brunton. That survey (which you can download in full here) found that 84% of respondents favour keeping Hawke’s Bay GE Free as a food growing region.

So Pure Hawke’s Bay went for ‘quality’ support first (if you take that to mean HB’s traditional rural/grower leader network, including Maori) and backed that up by showing that it has the numbers too in terms of public opinion.

Adding the fracking and GE Free results up, it almost looks like the Hastings District Council is turning green. God help us!

I’m eagerly waiting to see what lessons the Regional Council (the region’s economic development agency), yet to hear and consider its LTP submissions next week, will draw from all this.

Tom Belford

From Mayor Yule to Baywatch and others …

It is important that I clearly articulate the position adopted by the
Hastings District Council despite the HBToday headline.

1.HDC is waiting the review of Fracking by the Parliamentary
Commissioner for the Environment. It will not being making any formal
stance on Fracking until we receive this.

2. HDC will seek to protect the Aquifer and other waterways as an
immediate priority. While HDC is not a Consenting Authority for the
majority of the consenting issues with exploration and extraction, we
will take a position in any process to protect our water resources
particularily the aquifer. This could involve HDC’s formal opposition
in a consenting process. We will adopt a competely precautionary
approach. The Heretaunga Plains Aquifer is the life blood of Hawkes
Bay and one of the most significant and pure forms of water in New
Zealand.

3. HDC aknowledges there may be a significant mineral resource in our
region which could generate significant GDP and jobs. The location of
these and sites of extraction are unknown at this stage. This GDP and
job benefits need to be clearly balanced against possible
environmental risks.

It may be possible that certain eploration and extraction methodolgy
may me possible in certain sites in the Hastings District which could
potentially add value to Hawkes Bay while statisfying environmental
concerns.

I hope this clarifies our position.

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1 Comment

  1. I'm quite sure the potential 'trillions' to be made from fracking will make the oil company corporates even richer at our expense!

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