Tag Archives: New Plymouth District Council

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