Tag Archives: New Plymouth District Council

Welcome to 2014, Tikorangi!

Oh my, but our petrochemical sites are getting very close together now. Some residents may be able to see two sites from their homes. One lucky family has sites close in on both their boundaries now.
Kowhai-c-from-ME-siteThis is Kowhai C site as seen from Mangahewa E site. These sites belong to two different companies drilling right on their boundary which happens to cut through Tikorangi.
KC-from-opp-Kb-on-foremansHere we have Kowhai C site – the one this community said it didn’t want but got anyway. This photo was taken 150 metres to the side of Kowhai B site in order to get a clear view. Both sites belong to the same company – Greymouth Petroleum. Kowhai B is consented for 8 wells. Only one has been drilled so far. Close by, so very close that one wonders why the company needed a second site, Kowhai C is consented for 4 wells.
Kowhai-c-Kowhai C again, this time from Otaraoa Road. It is one of about 10 well sites Greymouth Petroleum has in Tikorangi. I know of 9 that have been consented – I am not sure of the current status of Urenui A (which is not in Urenui but is in Tikorangi).
M-c-Kowhai-C-stakes-M-c-in-This photo taken about August last year – the rig has now gone but it was on Mangahewa C, as photographed from Kowhai C. It is like a quadrilateral of sites, already. These two belong to separate companies again.
ME-from-Stockman-rd-14-12-1Mangahewa E site from Stockman Road (near Mangahewa C site). These two Mangahewa sites are Todd Energy’s but, to be fair, it should be pointed out that Mangahewa C site has 8 wells drilled on it so is at capacity on its current consent.
026Work progresses on the new Mangahewa E site.
???????????????????????????????Mangahewa E site again. It is often stated that this petrochemical development (still called “exploration” but they are long past exploration in Tikorangi where it is decades since a dry well was drilled) is “temporary”. Does this look temporary? How can these developments be temporary when the majority of consents are open ended with no expiry date? Only the most recent three sites have a time limit on the consents – 15, 20 and 30 years. In whose books is this “temporary”?
008And work progresses on extensions at Turangi A site. These are the other company’s sites (Greymouth Petroleum).
???????????????????????????????But wait, there are more. Turangi C site is, according to the company (Greymouth Petroleum) “about” 850 metres from Turangi A site. It can’t be any more than that from Turangi B site, in that case, because it is pretty much set back between the two. Neither Turangi A nor Turangi B have been drilled to capacity. So why does the company need a third site and could they not have deviation drilled from one of the other two sites? Who knows? Only the company and neither New Plymouth District Council nor Taranaki Regional Council seem inclined to ask them why. It looks mighty like speculative consenting to some of us – described by the company rep to me as “future proofing”. Right-o then. That is future proofing the company, not Tikorangi.

Turangi C site broke new territory, even for Tikorangi. The farmer who owns the land from where the photograph was taken was not even told of the site. His farm manager discovered it when site works started. It is consented to go right on the boundary – the bunding will presumably come up to the fence. This is a whole new precedent – getting a heavy industrial site on the boundary and nobody even bothering to tell you. Apparently the company didn’t think it was necessary, neither did the two councils, not even the land owners who let the company in told their neighbour. Only in Taranaki, surely, could this happen.
???????????????????????????????And Kowhai B site with one hole drilled, as viewed from the neighbour’s property. It doesn’t look “temporary” and it was anything but silent on the day I took this photo. It has a significant impact on the neighbour’s adjoining paddock and could well affect his future property options but he was never deemed an “affected party”. I think, to the right of centre at the front of the photo, that is an example of the screen planting done by the company. It’ll be quite a few years before anything is screened by that sort of planting.

Still New Plymouth District Council faffs around with no evidence of any sense of urgency. Despite being responsible for the conditions in the District Plan that have allowed this situation in Tikorangi, they fiddly faddle around the edges, failing to get to grips with planning and management of petrochemical development

Columnist, Dion Tuuta, wrote in our local paper this morning:

“By ignoring the wishes of the iwi, hapu and wider community involved, the company is indicating that it values profit above all else – including its long-term relationship with members of the tribal group in whose area they are likely to be spending a significant amount of time and resources.”

He was referring to Tag Oil’s determination to drill on a sensitive site a mere 220 metres from the Egmont National Park on the flanks of our maunga, Mount Taranaki. His comments are just as applicable to Greymouth Petroleum in Tikorangi. With bells on. In determinedly pursuing the Kowhai C site, against the wishes of the vast majority of the local community, they deliberately ignored all local opinion, just as they wilfully ignored Otaraua Hapu who claim that area as part of their territory. Profit is to come above all else for some of these companies. It is a bitter legacy they are creating. Both those companies might do better to look to the strategies adopted by Todd Energy which places a very high priority on building community relationships and working with the local residents.

Cumulative Effects (of Petrochemical Development)

Side by side newsletters

Side by side newsletters

Two newsletters arrived last week followed up by two circulars to Tikorangi residents – well, one letter and one memo. The difference in style between *our* two petrochem companies operating here is pretty stark.

And side by side letters both appeared in the letter box yesterday

And side by side letters both appeared in the letter box yesterday

But it is the list of current activities that is scary.

Greymouth Petroleum:

1) Construction of Kowhai C site. That is the site that this community spoke up and said we did not want so our District Council helped Greymouth Petroleum by consenting it in secrecy and not addressing community concerns, including Otaraua Hapu whose rohe that site is in. Greymouth did not even acknowledge this community’s concern.

Greymouth's yellow tanker on their new stretch of Otaraoa Road

Greymouth’s yellow tanker on their new stretch of Otaraoa Road

2) Roadworks related to Kowhai C site.
3) Pipeline construction.
4) Drilling rig is coming in to Kowhai C site starting October 26 (‘approximately’ 75 truck movements).
5) A workover is coming to Kowhai A site. This presumably involves a workover rig.
6) Roadworks to the Turangi A, B and C sites.
7) Work is apparently going to start on Ohanga B site shortly. Epiha A is already constructed and presumably ready to drill. Urenui A is apparently planned. Turangi C is not yet constructed. There is talk of extensions to Kowhai A site.

Another day, more traffic here

Another day, more traffic here

Then if we add in Todd Energy’s activities:

8) Fracking and flaring on Mangahewa C site
9) Site works on Mangahewa E site
10) Still more construction of infrastructure facilities on Mangahewa C starting in November.
11) Mangahewa Expansion Train 2 (MET2) construction continuing at McKee.
12) Pipeline construction (includes using a helicopter).
13) Roadworks on Otaraoa Road to improve access to McKee.

This is what a rig move looks like, but multiply by between 75 and 95 loads

This is what a rig move looks like, but multiply by between 75 and 95 loads – though not all are on trucks this large

14) The rig was moved out of Mangahewa C site over the past few weeks. This involved many heavy loads and a small matter of an oil spill last week (right along our two road boundaries here, in fact).

Bit of an oops with a spill on the road outside our place

Bit of an oops with a spill on the road outside our place

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Permanent tanker movements continue from most sites and from McKee. All of these activities generate noise and heavy traffic.

All year we have been trying to convince New Plymouth District Council that they must address cumulative effects when a range of petrochemical activities are taking place at the same time. But nothing has happened and in the meantime the activity ramps up further.

Tikorangi is apparently the most heavily explored and developed petrochemical area in the country. It used to be a highly desirable and charming little rural community. Now it is reeling. And still more is planned.

Is Tikorangi to be the blueprint for other areas, given this government’s belief that salvation lies in oil and gas development?

Just another load for the MET 3 construction at McKee passing our place

Just another load for the MET 3 construction at McKee passing our place

Descending into farce: Tikorangi Newsletter no.4

Tikorangi-Butter-paperTikorangi Newsletter 4, Tuesday 10 September

Plenty of road signage was in place at 10.31 on Friday 6 September when work had commenced

Plenty of road signage was in place at 10.31 on Friday 6 September when work had commenced

Music_quote_icon

“Ooh, I bet you’re wondering how I knew

About your plans t’ make Greymouth blue.

Well I heard it through the grapevine

How you remove their road signs

Oh, I heard it through the grapevine”

* Now Tikorangi residents, it is not the fault of Greymouth Petroleum or their contractor that people are “removing” the warning signs from the entry to their new Kowhai C well site. These photographs, taken after smoko on the very day they started work clearly show that there is a full complement of safety signage in place at that time. Since then, our roading man at Council has been told from a most reliable source, “on the grapevine” as he says, that safety signs are “being removed”. This is a matter of public safety and it may be that those alarmist residents who have been in contact with Council expressing concern at the safety of that entranceway have decided to make it even more dangerous by removing signs. Obviously. Seems logical to us here at NPDC. sad_smilesad_smile

Plenty of warning signage coming from the other side at 10.20am on Friday 6 Sept

Plenty of warning signage coming from the other side at 10.20am on Friday 6 Sept

* And the mayor is not pleased with some of you at Tikorangi. You may have heard him on the 10am news bulletin on National Radio today. My, but he made us proud here back in the office. You will be proud too, to hear that it is only a very few people in Tikorangi who are not thrilled with the new Kowhai C site. The vast majority are very supportive of your mayor, your council and Greymouth Petroleum. Very few indeed object and they are spoiling it for all those of you who think that site is perfectly placed. So to the 85 of you who turned up to the first meeting in the Tikorangi Hall on March 5 and bleated about your concerns, to those of you who turned up in our Council chambers to “support” your speakers on April 23 and again on June 11, to those fictional 80 people who signed the letter you gave us opposing that site (75 of you allegedly being residents or landowners around the immediate block of Kowhai C), to Otaraua Hapu and to those of you who have been hounding us with emails, phone calls and personal visits all year, we say “back off”. You are just a small minority so you don’t count. Your mayor has spoken. And by the by, he is hopping mad at the news (heard down the grapevine, too) that some of you are now referring to him as Rumpelstiltskin.sad_smilesad_smilesad_smile

* Just to clarify the situation with regard to the well site entrance: what is happening now is “construction” and is therefore NOT a controlled activity. When all this frenzy of construction activity is pretty much over in a month or six weeks, only then will the company and Council start on widening the road and making the entranceway safer. Because that is how we operate here at NPDC.

* We are not going to say nga mihi to everybody in Tikorangi. We are not best pleased with you sad_smile and we are hoping for an improvement in behaviour shortly. Under the new legislation passed by central government, we have been able to pass on certain key names to the GCSB and we expect that they will shortly be conducting raids on certain Tikorangi terrorist cells in search of Greymouth contractor’s missing road signs.

* sad_smileDon’t make us sad, Tikorangi. We want smiley faces on our next newsletter.

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13th September. My but what a difference a few days can make. Look at all the signage and road cones that have appeared. Were the “removed signs” returned?

And 3 days later: look!

And 3 days later: look!

  • Tikorangi Newsletter 3 (including my letter to NPDC).
  • Click here to read the second issue of your Tikorangi News.
  • Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

The following letter is reproduced with the permission of the writer. Gavin Faull is managing director of Faull Farms Ltd – Trewithen Partnership with land adjacent to the Kowhai C well site. His email was sent to the mayor and councillors on Tuesday September 5.

Dear Harry,

Like (Otaraua Hapu), like my fellow Tikorangi residents, I too am shocked, disappointed, bewildered at the behaviour of council and the complete ignoring of the concerns of the Tikorangi residents.

I will not repeat all the issues that have been presented over the past months.

I am totally dismayed that

1. No consultation is required with the people of Tikorangi
2. There are no affected parties regarding Kowhai C
3. That we gamble with the future of our agricultural industry and our environment.

We have seen what happened to Fonterra’s reputation in China over a relatively minor “dirty pipe” episode

This was the third scare for Fonterra which represents 25% of the NZ economy.

The environmental risk is huge if there are not very, very strict controls in place, legislated and policed. There seems to be huge difficulty to even monitor traffic movement in Tikorangi – a relative simple process. How are we going to monitor and manage toxic waste?

You know that Fonterra is reviewing very carefully milk collection from land farms in Taranaki and has already advised that no new land farms can supply milk to Fonterra. This is clearly signalling concern by Fonterra.

What is my protection regarding possible toxic contamination with my dairy farm immediately adjacent to Kowhai C?? Am I not an affected party?? I can assure you that if this becomes an issue and Fonterra refuses my milk production then I will have a huge compensation claim from all parties – Greymouth; NPDC,TRC and all executives and members of management of all these companies and organisations who have been charged with the responsibility of professional management. The liability potential would be huge.

As you know I am all for progress. I have been involved in many business developments in Taranaki that have positively helped the economic growth of Taranaki.

I am not for stopping economic development.

I am just amazed at the total lack of management and the enforcing of responsible environmental controls.

Government is elected to represent the people and protect the people.

The concerns of the Tikorangi residents will not go away.

Regards
Gavin

Gavin M. Faull, JP
Managing Director

Tikorangi News 3: September 8, 2013

Tikorangi-Butter-paper

Hi de hi, campers!

Welcome to the third edition of Tikorangi News. Matters are unfolding so rapidly in Tikorangi that we at New Plymouth District Council understand that you need to be kept well informed. At Council we understand. We are very understanding. We understand that Tikorangi residents are disappointed that the Kowhai C site is going ahead. We do. We really, really understand.
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by-school-NgatiMrd-04-09-13 3.49 pm.* Tikorangi folk will be thrilled to see that, like Arnie, Greymouth Petroleum are back! They sure are back. Be reassured that we, here at Council, understand your concerns about safety issues at the entrance to their lovely new Kowhai C site but we are right across safety issues. All of us here at Council are well briefed on their Traffic Management Plan and there is no danger at all. It is perfectly safe.regular_smile
Ngatimaru-Rd-04-09-13--3.45
* It is idle speculation that a Greymouth vehicle may have been involved with this minor traffic incident on Ngatimaru Road at 3.45pm on September 4. We understand the lady in the ute who may have been rear-ended is absolutely fine although the ute may not make a full recovery.
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* Isn’t it wonderful that Greymouth have distributed their newsletter to local residents? It is so packed with handy information and updates so everyone is now really well informed as to what is happening. You will have noted their comment that “We choose sites as far away as possible from residents.” It is not Greymouth’s fault that you Tikorangi folk have your houses too close together. We have reviewed the situations of the neighbours’ houses closest to both Kowhai B and C at 350 metres or less and have concluded, in the most understanding way, that effects will be less than minor and therefore perfectly acceptable. You can trust us to protect your interests. regular_smileregular_smile

* Since learning that they were to get the consent, Greymouth Petroleum’s field staff have been busy as little beavers in the last week visiting local residents. This is called retrospective consultation with the local community. If you haven’t seen your Greymouth rep yet, give them a call. Offering them home made cake and a cuppa is a good way of showing them country hospitality.

021 - Copy* The good folk at Venture Taranaki tell us they are well down the track of preparing their report on the economic benefits to Taranaki of flaring and night lighting sites. Local residents will be well aware that these activities have the positive benefit of lowering their household power bills. There are many other benefits and Venture Taranaki expect to be able to quantify the financial and employment benefits that accrue from the companies’ generosity with flaring and night lighting. Local residents may not realise that a side benefit of flaring is, reportedly, a reduction in flying insects and as a result the risk of a malaria or Ross River virus outbreak in Tikorangi has been greatly reduced.
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* Some Tikorangi residents have called for a lowering of the speed limit through the area. We have taken this suggestion seriously and sought independent expert advice. Contrary to what local residents may think, the expert advice is very clear that we should be raising the speed limit to 120km/hr. This simple action will result in a considerable lowering of risk because the time taken for heavy vehicles carrying hazardous loads to pass your property will be greatly reduced. We will be gazetting the new speed limit shortly and new signage will be posted.

???????????????????????????????* Even we at NPDC have been astonished at just how quickly Greymouth Petroleum have been able to improve your local countryside. It took just one and a half days to change it from this boring and dull country road (shown to the left), into this lovely new scene shown below. You hardly know they are there, do you Tikorangi? This is the incredibly small environmental footprint they have.
Otar-Rd-12.11-pm-07-09-2013

Todd's plantings

Todd’s plantings

Greymouth's pittos

Greymouth’s pittos

* In the spirit of friendly competition, it is clear that your two local petrochemical companies are actively working to make their sites more beautiful than their rival’s. Todd’s entranceway to their Mangahewa C site features rewarewas with herbaceous under plantings. Not to be outdone, Greymouth have spared no expense and gone for high quality pittosporums along the boundary of the Kowhai B site. That is just the ticket. The companies are going to make sure that Tikorangi is more beautiful than ever.

Mangahewa-C-quarters-march-* sad_smile We have heard a few mutterings that some residents may not be happy about the establishment of a semi-permanent single men’s camp with the access on little Stockman Road. My, oh my, what whingers some people are. Such camps are commonplace in the outbacks of Australia and Tikorangi is just as remote. There haven’t been any problems with the camp at Mangahewa C site and we see its relocation to Stockman Road could be a positive move for the community. And of course if somebody wanted to build a hotel on Stockman Road, we would approve it so a single men’s camp is not so different. What could go wrong?

* Residents closest to Mangahewa C who are sad that the last well is to be drilled shortly will be so excited to hear that Todd Energy are planning to drill another four wells there in the near future. Such good news for all. Look upon this as a potential tourist attraction. In the meantime, lucky residents along Tikorangi Road will be pleased to hear that it is highly likely that Mangahewa E will be starting soon and you will get to enjoy the brand new, state of the art drilling rig painted in special colours.regular_smile
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On that positive note, we conclude. Kia kaha Tikorangi! And if things get you down, raise a smile. At the office, we are running a sweepstake on how many more well sites can be fitted in Tikorangi. There will always be room for more.
Your very understanding team at NPDC.

On-top-of-hill-K-C-
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Click here to read the second issue of your Tikorangi News.
Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

My letter to NPDC councillors, emailed on September 2. It has elicited just two replies. A courteous acknowledgement from Cr Biesek and a classic case of passive-aggressive self justification from a councillor who had best remain unnamed at this stage.

Dear Councillors,

It is difficult to convey the sense of betrayal felt at the news that your Council officers are ready to sign off the Kowhai C site. It will not be going to a hearing. I am assuming there are no affected parties under their interpretation of the RMA. There has been no community consultation.

The Tikorangi community came to you in good faith. The letter signed by 80 adults, 75 of whom live in the immediate block around the Kowhai C site, represented a rare expression of unanimity in the district in opposing that site. But you shelved that letter. Greymouth Petroleum has not even bothered to acknowledge receipt of it.

In good faith, we have spent countless hours working to find paths through the development. After all, we were only opposing one site. We could work with the other 12 well sites (now numbering 95 or so potential gas wells consented or in the process of being consented in Tikorangi with a further possible 17 that I know of – there may be more). There was always the sticking point of Kowhai C but your staff assured us it was “on hold”. Your website still shows it as “paused”.

And all the while, as we sat around the table with your staff and put in a great deal of work behind the scenes, those very same staff were working with Greymouth to repeatedly massage their application for Kowhai C to the point where it is now ready to be signed off. But they didn’t tell us that. The first we knew about it was when work started on the site last Tuesday.

Reassurances that it is for 4 wells only and for 15 years ring hollow. Now that they are in, it is easy for things to change and for later applications to vary the consent, based on existing use. There is already precedent for this at Mangahewa C. Councillors change, staff change. You have opened the door to industrial development in the one block which this community opposed.

What is more, in an historic move, Otaraua Hapu stood in solidarity beside Tikorangi residents to oppose Kowhai C site and told you that this is their territory and they had not been consulted or given their consent. Otaraua tell me that the courts have now confirmed that it is indeed their rohe although Ngati Rahiri have challenged that ruling so it is still before the courts. What is important is that Otaraua Hapu has still not been consulted and council officers have not responded to repeated messages and emails on this matter. Yet you are signing off their territory for heavy industrial development. It appears that no lessons have been learned from history.

All but one of the councillors around your table listened courteously and, I thought, gave us a fair hearing even though some of you showed definite allegiances soon after.

But you did nothing. So Kowhai C is going ahead.

Shame on Council staff. The so-called Tikorangi Protocol was based on good faith and trust. I have neither left.

Yours sincerely,
Abbie

Tikorangi Newsletter 2. August 30, 2013

Tikorangi-Butter-paperHi de hi, guys!

Welcome to our second issue of Tikorangi News. We at New Plymouth District Council take our responsibilities to keep residents informed very seriously.

???????????????????????????????• We know that Tikorangi residents were united in their opposition to the Kowhai C site but we have GOOD NEWS. We have halved the number of gas wells Greymouth Petroleum can drill on this site. They are only allowed to have four wells – to start with anyway. This is a win-win situation. They win. And in the future, if they apply for a variation to their consent, they will likely win again.

• We wish to reassure Tikorangi residents that there is NO TRUTH whatsoever in the rumour that Greymouth Petroleum plan to relocate their production station at Kowhai A to Kowhai C site. Not a skerrick of truth and Greymouth have warned their gossiping staff that loose lips sink ships.

• We at New Plymouth District Council want to tell Tikorangi residents that we are making wonderful progress on the voluntary Tikorangi Protocol. The success of this protocol can be measured by the fact that we have put a time limit on the Kowhai C site. It will be all over in 15 years. Unless subsequent council officers grant an extension of course. We can’t be blamed for what happens in the future. And if we need to progress the Protocol without residents being involved, you can rest assured that both Council staff and the companies have your best interests at heart. regular_smileregular_smile

• Finally on the new Kowhai C site, before we “move forward”, Greymouth Petroleum have assured us that they have talked to all the close neighbours to that site. That is, all the neighbours who matter. If you are a close neighbour (maybe even a very close neighbour) and the Greymouth team have not visited you then you just need to wake up and get real. You are not important. Move on. You cannot expect to stand in the way of progress. The same applies to Otaraua Hapu. If they want to be difficult and refuse to meet with the good folk at Greymouth Petroleum, that is their decision and we have no role at all to play in resolving this conflict. Ngati Rahiri’s signature is good enough for us.

IMG_0953 copy Greymouth on Road small• Greymouth Petroleum have asked us to assure residents that they have not forgotten their undertaking to NPDC councillors on June 11 that they will be setting up a blog, holding community meetings and sending out community newsletters to keep you folk informed. They have just been such busy little beavers that they haven’t had time to do it yet. However, they do want everybody to know that they are very, very sorry about the incident back on March 17 when one of their loads took out the power supply to Tikorangi. They assure us that this was a fully compliant load and they are sure that there were pilot vehicles. Somewhere. Of course we understand that little accidents can happen.

• We are a little concerned that some Tikorangi residents are afflicted by hallucinations. Greymouth Petroleum have checked all the GPS records on their vehicles and they have never, we repeat NEVER, used Tikorangi Rd between Ngatimaru and Inland North Roads as an alternative route for their Kowhai B site in 2013. The resident who reported a yellow GMP truck on that road at 2.50pm on March 21 was imagining things. Similarly, the resident who claims she was almost hit by a Greymouth heavy transport when exiting her driveway around 3.00pm on March 25 this year must have been drinking. The heavy load, accompanied by two pilot vehicles that passed along that road between 11.00 and 11.30am on June 25 had nothing whatever to do with Greymouth. Having dealt with all these false allegations, Greymouth have assured residents that they should “feel free to contact (their transport manager) at any time going forward”. We wouldn’t want to be going backward now, would we? sad_smile

• On a more cheerful note we have wonderful news of a new milestone. Little old Tikorangi is now knocking on the door of 13 well sites and when it all goes ahead, you could have the exciting prospect of maybe up to 95 individual wells in your area. Well done Tikorangi! Coming to a paddock near your cowshed soon, if you are lucky. Maybe a party will be in order when you hit the ton. Add in your pumping stations, the switching station and McKee and you have the round number of 20 different sites. This is pretty special, Tikorangi. And you hardly know they are there. Is this not a wonderful situation? At Council, we think it is. Of course, Greymouth have assured us that they are only going to drill one iddle widdle hole at each site and the surplus consented wells are only to “future proof” the company but we are pretty confident that they will drill more than that.
Trucks on raod by Tikorangi school • We have had positive reports that the large loads on your roads are a special attraction for the preschoolers in the area. And some dads, too. Isn’t it just so cute how the appeal of big rigs never fades? You can tell your littlies that there is plenty more to come so the excitement will continue.

???????????????????????????????• An innovative initiative is about to start as we want to teach Tikorangi residents that their roads are safe and that local children will be well looked after if they return to using the free school bus service. This will have the added benefit of reducing traffic on the roads if parents stop driving their children to school instead. “Keep left” will be the slogan. There is plenty of room in the drain for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Wear gumboots if it is raining. Just stay as far left as you can because some of these are very large vehicles and the bigger they are, the more important they are.
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???????????????????????????????• New Plymouth District councillors want us to tell you what a wonderful day they had on their tour visiting the companies and they thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality. They are sorry they couldn’t fit in the residents on this recent familiarisation tour, facilitated by Tikorangi’s very own elected representative, Cr Craig MacFarlane. But they were reassured by the companies that any negative impacts on residents are grossly exaggerated and claims of increasing industrialisation of your district are nothing but hyperbole. They saw this for themselves so that is good news. You will be reassured by this and no doubt you will all be voting to re-elect Cr MacFarlane in appreciation of his sterling efforts on your behalf. regular_smile

• Finally, our new complaints system at New Plymouth District Council is working really well. We have set up a new File 13 for all complaints, enquiries and calls on petrochemical matters. Don’t forget that if your complaint is regarding traffic, call the police, not us. It will save everybody time.

Kind regards from all of us at New Plymouth District Council. We are proud to be here to help you. regular_smileregular_smileregular_smile
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Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

Saving Tikorangi – what could Councils do?

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Following on from my post on Tikorangi Lost – how a little community is being sacrificed to the petrochemical dollar, I suggest the following:

1) Stop hiding behind legislation. If the ability for Councils to take a lead role in planning and managing development is not possible under existing legislation and regulation, then admit publicly that is the case and immediately approach central Government seeking change. It appears that the current regulations may be inadequate to meet such major development.
2) Set a moratorium on new consents and major variations to existing consents while an overall plan is put in place and pending the final report from the Commissioner for the Environment.
3) Develop a plan for the district involving local residents as well as the companies.
4) Review the extent to which the use of non-notified consents and the virtual elimination of “affected party status” has led to a culture of exclusion bordering on secrecy between companies and councils whereby local residents only find out what is happening after the consents have been approved.
5) Appoint a residents’ advocate.
6) Give residents a voice, the chance to give a report card, victim impact report even, on what the personal impact has been. Stop ignoring them.
7) Initiate a study into levels of stress and anxiety in local residents as a result of the rapid petrochemical development.
8) Create a single point of contact at Council.
9) Impose a 70km speed limit throughout areas of Tikorangi affected by petrochem dev – ie from Princess St through Ngatimaru Rd to Kowhai A site, Inland North Rd as far as Otaraoa Rd, Otaraoa Rd as far inland as Mckee, Tikorangi Rd from the intersection with Otaraoa Rd to Mangahewa E site.
10) Cease issuing permits for well sites in excess of what a site is suitable for and in excess of what companies have actually planned. This is effectively an open mandate for them to do whatever they want in the future.
11) Do not allow existing use as a reason for granting major variations, as was done with the increase in site area for Mangahewa C, setting a dangerous precedent. If a company applies for use which is beyond the capacity of their site at the time, that should be the company’s problem and not a reason to allow them to hugely expand the site.
12) Conduct independent traffic counts including specific attention to heavy loads and hazardous loads.
13) Define community consultation. A letter box drop is not community consultation. Nor is dropping a large bundle of papers on a local resident or organisation without explanation or interpretation. Indeed, a meeting where a company presents its plans to local residents is not community consultation either. It is merely communicating decisions already made and is therefore community liaison.
14) As the intensity of development escalates, the chances of a major incident greatly increase. This could be an on-site incident such as a well blow out or major malfunction, or a traffic accident involving heavy vehicles, often carrying dangerous goods. Many locals would like advice as to emergency actions in the event of such an incident. Put simply, which way should we drive to get out?
15) Actively discourage Greymouth’s pepper-potting of well sites. Do not permit them to establish separate well sites a few hundred metres apart. Todd have chosen to establish fewer sites and directionally drill. While the impact on neighbours is therefore much higher, the total number of people adversely affected is much lower. Allowing companies to pepper pot sites impacts negatively on many more people and on the environment.
16) Take best practice from one company as the required benchmark for other companies. Todd Energy have made major improvements to flaring, reducing the length of time flaring took place on their third well on Mangahewa C site, to under 30 hours, if my memory is correct. This is a massive change from the months of flaring previously and the improvement for locals was major as a result. If Todd can do it, so can other companies. Similarly, Todd maintains extremely high standards of community liaison and acts on complaints. This does not appear to be true with all companies.
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17) Acknowledge that in the countryside, the norm is silence at night. Setting allowable limits for industrial noise, pays no heed to the severe degradation of quality of life when low grade industrial noise permeates the environment 24 hours a day. The same goes for light. The norm in the country is darkness at night. The well sites are very brightly lit.
18) Look at the whole picture, not just the well sites. The construction is a major intrusion and the infrastructure seems to have bypassed Councils’ notice altogether – the pipelines, the roadworks, the power supplies, the use of helicopters, the seismic surveys. There is layer upon layer.
19) Stop consents being merely a checklist of boxes to be ticked. Look at applications in the context of what is already happening, what the cumulative effect will be and how it all fits with a development plan drawn up for the area.
20) Undertake regular Assessments of Environmental Effects and formal reviews of resource consents. Recognise that when companies pursue a very active programme of encouraging residents to complain direct to them, that it means they can fudge the extent of resident complaints. Indeed, it appears to have been so effective that it can entirely escape New Plymouth District Council’s attention. Council then acts on the unverified assumption that there are no significant problems.
21) Seek external verification of company reports on environmental effects. Do not rely solely on information supplied by the companies and “visual inspections”.
22) Change the way complaints are recorded at Council. Complaints from Tikorangi residents about noise, light, traffic, the state of the roads, littering and assorted other presenting issues are more likely to be about petrochemical development than about anything else, yet they appear to be recorded under a host of other categories.
23) Monitor closely what is happening to property values and the length of time it takes to sell property in Tikorangi. These are another indicator of the health and desirability of the area.
24) Require that sites have screen planting put in as part of the initial site preparation. These industrial sites are an eyesore in a rural area and detract hugely from the visual quality of the environment. Within two or three years of initial site works, that planting should screen sites from view. Take the ability to screen from view into account when approving a site. In other words, hide them. Screen planting may also absorb some of the noise.
25) Recognise that the precedent set by allowing Greymouth Petroleum to position an 8 well site (Kowhai B) immediately on the boundary of the Foreman farm and about 300 metres from Graham Foreman’s home, without his agreement, has set a new bar for permissable intrusion. Many locals now fear that they could suddenly find a rig on their boundary, too.
26) Write a code of conduct for petrochemical companies, even if it has to be voluntary.
27) Independently verify claims made by companies and recognise that the consultants employed by those companies work for them. They are not independent consultants and their advice needs to be considered in that context.

In short, do some actual planning for once.

These, these types of measures are what I have been seeking for over fifteen years since I first sat in Mayor Claire Stewart’s office with the then so-called “planners”. It appears that nothing has ever been done. Councils have abdicated any role or responsibility for planning and leave it to the petrochemical companies.

Tikorangi and other similar areas are paying an unacceptably high price for Councils’ willingness to pander to the powerful petrochemical companies and the petrochemical dollar. The problems are only going to escalate with rampant and uncontrolled growth of the industry.

Genuine resident Tikorangi goat. Draw your own conclusions

Genuine resident Tikorangi goat. Draw your own conclusions

Tikorangi Lost – how a little community is being sacrificed to the petrochemical dollar

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Ours is a typical rural community in North Taranaki, about 5km off the state highway. We named our garden for the area. There are two main(ish) roads here and about five side roads. The country store has long since closed but we have a pretty little church which is still in use.
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We have a country school which has been here for 146 years. It currently has a roll of about 140 though that has been inflated by children from the town of Waitara 6km away.
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We have tennis courts, a rugby club and a well kept community hall. The original dairy factory is still here. It has Historic Places A classification and is a home these days.
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We even have an active playcentre in an historic building (the original school). It too has Historic Places A classification.

Typical farmland. Shame this is the site for Mangahewa E

Typical farmland. Shame this is the site for Mangahewa E

Many of the original settler families are still living here. Jury, Sarten, Soffe, Foreman and Lye are common surnames. Many trace their antecedents to the first boats of immigrants that landed in New Plymouth in 1841. This is an area even richer in Maori history and families like the O’Carrolls and the Baileys can trace their whakapapa back much further. The area is peppered with waahi tapu (sacred sites).

It is predominantly farming, dairy at that, only one modern industrial farm. The rest are generally in family hands often down the generations. There is an increasing number of small holdings as people build their “forever homes” on their piece of land in the country because we are only 20 minutes out of New Plymouth.
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I doubt that too many people ride horses on this road any longer. This is one of our main(ish) roads with an astonishing volume of traffic, much of it heavy transport, and much of it travelling fast because it is a 100km/h speed limit.
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Then there is this.
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And this. Two rigs, two sites.
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And lots and lots of these.
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Lots and lots and lots in fact.
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We have these sorts of installations.
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At times we get more of these than we would like. Darned noisy machines.
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The first set of power pylons marching across the landscape date back to the Motunui synthetic petrol plant in the early eighties. But now we have more. This latest lot are not for the public good. It is the designated power supply for Todd Energy marching across our rural landscape. The ground below is criss crossed with gas pipelines.
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Our night skies are no longer the velvety darkness which we used to take for granted in the country. Some of us no longer enjoy silence – at any time.

Our roads are being upgraded, even our little side roads, but this is solely to enable them to carry huge loads along what used to be little country lanes.

And there is plenty more to come. Currently, I think we are enduring the drilling of wells 8 and 9 (or thereabouts). It appears that our local councils, without consultation, without an overall plan, dealing with applications on a case by case, non notified basis, have already consented or are in the process of consenting up to FIFTY FIVE, maybe even FIFTY NINE wells in our little Tikorangi. That is an area shaped a little like a cross and measuring about 6km at its longest point and 3km at its widest point, bounded by Epiha A site, Kowhai B site, Mangahewa A site and Mangahewa E site. (A list of wells approved, applied for or announced publicly is at the end of this post. These are only the ones I have found. I do not know if it is complete).(Goodness. I first wrote that two years ago. We now fourteen well sites approved for in excess of 100 wells. Clearly we did not realise in 2013 just how much worse it could get.)
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You too can find you now have a major well site on your boundary with no consultation or compensation as this person did. It is no longer a joke. Yes, that is the next door farmer’s boundary fence.
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This is Mangahewa C site. In late December, the company was given an extension to their resource consent to more than double the size of the site, apparently without the Council planner making a site visit. She was, it seems, too busy in the lead up to Christmas to get out. She might have been very surprised by what she found, had she made the time.

Read the council planners’ reports and you find references to the effects of this development being “less than minor” and “not altering the rural character of the area”. Words fail me on these bizarre claims except to say that maybe, from one’s office desk in New Plymouth, they don’t look quite like they do on the ground in Tikorangi.

And few of us complain because “you drive a car don’t you?” is the common, sneering response from the ignorant and the ill informed.

Consented and proposed wells in Tikorangi.
Epiha A, Otaraoa Road: 8
Kowhai A, Ngatimaru Road: 6
Kowhai B, Ngatimaru Road: 8
Kowhai C, Otaraoa Road: 8
Mangahewa A, Otaraoa Road – waiting to have confirmed. Best guess at this stage, maybe another 8.
Mangahewa C, Tikorangi Road: 8 consented, number 4 being drilled now but Todd announced at a meeting with locals in the Tikorangi Hall last December that they WILL be drilling a further 9 wells on this site in the next five years. This makes a total of 13.
Mangahewa E, Tikorangi Road: 8
Depending on the number of wells consented for Mangahewa A, that makes a total of 59 (with a small margin of error).

What can Tikorangi residents and landowners do?
Contact the New Plymouth District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council and ask for a moratorium to be placed on any further petrochemical development consents or variations to consents until:
a) A development plan is in place for Tikorangi and
b) The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment releases her final report.

Contacts at New Plymouth District Council could include: Frank Versteeg, versteegf@npdc.govt.nz, Barbara McKerrow mckerrowb@npdc.govt.nz, and the mayor harry.duynhoven@npdc.govt.nz. It will filter down to the lower echelons from there, but I have no idea if the reverse is true.

Contacts at Taranaki Regional Council: consents@trc.govt.nz, david.macleod@trc.govt.nz, basil.chamberlain@trc.govt.nz, fred.mclay@trc.govt.nz.

My follow up post is Saving Tikorangi – what our District and Regional Councils could do.

Update: Monday 11 February
1) This post and its accompanying post “Saving Taranaki” clocked up over 1000 views in 6 days. I have added two extra pointers, 26 and 27, to Saving Tikorangi.
2) Taranaki Regional Council have contacted me to say that none of this has anything at all to do with them. It is all New Plymouth District Council’s problem. How convenient.
3) I am still waiting to discover how many wells have been approved for Mangahewa A site. NPDC appear to be having difficulty finding the records even though this is a large and active site. I have suggested that if they have misfiled or lost the records, no doubt the licensee, Todd Energy, could supply them with a copy.
4) The applications for Greymouth Petroleum’s Kowhai C site are at a considerably more advanced stage than neighbours or locals realised. This, of course, is pretty much the same site that an active local campaign kept Fletcher Challenge out of 15 years ago. Who knew that the same issue would reappear but under a different company name? The same reasons why locals did not want Fletcher Challenge on that site still apply. In fact with fracking, those reasons are probably even greater. It is wildly inappropriate and risky to site major industrial developments in the very heart of a rural community.
5) Reportedly, Todd Energy is describing Tikorangi as “semi rural”. No, Todd. We are rural here. Semi rural is that transition on the outskirts of towns and cities. This is a farming area. The fact there are also some lifestyle blocks does not make us semi rural. Most of us would rather not be semi rural when the other semi is industrial, thank you.

I sent NPDC a photo of Mangahewa A site signage to help them find it

I sent NPDC a photo of Mangahewa A site signage to help them find it