Southland Consveration Board concerned about wildlife if deep sea oil exploration goes ahead

2019-06-11 06:52:48

The Southland Conservation Board says wildlife would be in danger if deep sea oil exploration in the Great South Basin goes ahead.

The board released a statement following a presentation from Austrian oil company OMV about oil exploration in the basin during a board meeting in Invercargill last week.

The board says that continued oil and gas exploration would not be consistent with the need to protect native species and their habitats.

Board chairman John Whitehead said "there is clear evidence that further development and use of fossil fuels will make life on earth much more difficult for endangered wildlife in the future."

The board also wrote a letter to OMV that urged them to consider diverting to other sustainable methods of energy development.

OMV's development of hydrogen and recycling of plastics to generate fuel were initiatives the board would be happy to support, Whitehead said.

The board was concerned about the economic viability of OMV in the next 10 years as newly discovered gas would create less demand for fossil fuels, he said.

"The taxpayer might have to clean up wastes and unwanted structures if OMV could not financially sustain itself," he said.

The board invited OMV to make a further presentation that outlined a new direction that would not effect environmental sustainability.

OMV released a statement that said that it was going through an Environmental Protection Agency process and a hearing was expected to be held in the next two months.

"Our environmental approach in regard to the GSB [Great South Basin] is outlined in the application to the EPA.

"The EPA hearing process gives the public a chance to have their say and we continue to consult with stakeholders face to face."

OMV would respond to questions through the EPA process rather than through media, the statement said.

OMV has consulted with regional councils, Iwi and the Department of Conservation since 2018 about its proposal for deep sea oil exploration of the basin.

They have currently submitted an application regarding the discharge of harmful substances from deck drains to the Environmental Protection Authority.

A marine consent to drill was expected to be submitted to the EPA in July.

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