Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer

CONSERVATION organisation Forest & Bird has responded to yesterday's New Zealand oil and gas leasing round with concern for the natural heritage areas contained within the acreages.
Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer Greenies hit back at NZ lease offer

NZ Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges announced the block offers yesterday, consisting of three onshore leases in the East Coast, Taranaki and West Coast basins, as well as five offshore release areas in the Reing-Northland, Taranaki, New Caledonia, Pegasus-East Coast and Great South-Canterbury basins.

The blocks cover 405,000sq.km of land and ocean, which Forest & Bird says includes public conservation land, parts of the Ruahine Forest Park and lowland forest remnants.

"Whether it be from the risk of spills, the lasting legacy of contaminated sites, or from climate change, Simon Bridges' garage sale of the rights to our pristine oceans and treasured forest areas could leave a lasting impact on our natural heritage," Forest & Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said.

"The sell-off of deepsea rights underlines the sad fact that more than 99% of New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone is open for exploitation by the fossil fuels industry and only a tiny fraction of our EEZ is fully protected from this sort of activity with full marine reserve status.

"As modelling done by the oil industry itself has shown, a deepwater oil blow-out could foul vast tracts of ocean and coastline.

"This would significantly impact on seabirds, marine mammals, fish and other marine life.

"Today's announcement has the feel of something that might have come out of the Wild West, rather than from a government looking after future generations of New Zealanders or this country's natural heritage."

The organisation hit back at the idea that an accelerated oil and gas industry would provide the way forward for NZ economically, saying that the government should be investing in renewables.

"The government is pumping tens of millions of dollars into seismic surveys and the like to make New Zealand a more attractive destination for the fossil fuels industry," it said.

"But instead of giving these old industries handouts, the government should be using this money to create a sustainable economy that fits with our clean green image."

Nominations for the block offers close on September 25, 2014.

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