Tag Archives: Petrochemical development

Tikorangi roads, traffic and about that speed limit

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

We went back to New Plymouth District Council recently. Yet again. To discuss ways in which we could better manage matters related to heavy petrochemical traffic.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Quite a few residents worry about the heavy traffic passing our school.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Look at that speedway effect. We are still trying to get the message across that using the heart of our community as a heavy traffic layby is not good.

005We protested modern road design with such step sides that nobody can ever pull to the side let alone walk, cycle or ride a horse alongside. We see this as a major loss of rural amenity.

005aWe tabled a concern that this type of hostile road design is incompatible with these roads being part of a designated cycle route. There is nowhere for bikes to go when challenged by frequent heavy transport.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

We expressed concern at recent road upgrades which make the traffic go even faster at the cost of any other road user and often to the detriment of roadside residents.

007We asked that Council make every sign count. We have so many signs and road cones now that few people take notice. Children crossing signs where locals know no children have lived for decades, horse signs (above) where no horses can be ridden any longer and ever more company signs.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

We pointed out the impact of huge loads passing close by. We raised concerns at the excessive speeds some traffic travels.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

We pointed out that this traffic was almost certainly parked up because it was school bus time – forcing the school bus over the centre line. We noted that if the speed limit was lowered, it should no longer be necessary to avoid school bus times as a safety measure.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Our community continues to try and function as it always has. This is our sports club and hall area.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Heavy transport -including tanker and trailer units carrying petrochemical product pass through the middle of this activity.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

The fun run and walk continue as the tanker passes by.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

Look at the wee dot with her sunhat to the left of the tanker – the fun run and walk again.

Photo: Fiona Clark

Photo: Fiona Clark

We asked for a lower maximum speed limit to be trialled. At the moment it is 100 km and many of us think that is just too fast for safety. The Council listened. They heard what we were saying and saw what we were showing. They wanted to take some action and the easiest initial action was to instruct staff to start the process of looking at lowering the speed limit but only on one road – Otaraoa Road. But even such a small gain is progress, we thought. It was reported in the local paper. Enter these three men.

Photo credit: Taranaki Daily News.

Photo credit: Taranaki Daily News.

Nobody consulted them, they said, claiming to speak for the good folk of Tikorangi – the “genuine residents”. You can read their story here.
019 Oh there have been some jokes. Shame the newspaper photographer didn’t stick around to snap these men with a petrochemical tanker and trailer unit bearing down on them at speed from behind, more than one person said. Where are their banjos and rifles, another quipped. Goodness, even Jed Clampett and the Beverley Hillbillies have been mentioned. But what on earth made these men think it was all right to attempt to discredit me, then get into their vehicles to drive down and pose outside Mark’s and my place, resembling a Wild West posse? I can only assume they meant to look intimidating and confrontational when all they had to do was to pick up the phone and ask a few questions.
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There is no problem with speed, they said. The problem, seen clearly here, is allegedly the vegetation from OUR place blocking the view! Oh really? The pictures tell the story. Heavy transport is one of the highest impact effects of petrochemical development. There are ways it can be managed better to reduce the negative impacts. That is what we have been saying since early last year.

Future New Zealand – the Simon Bridges and National Government vision

This is little Pouri A, up the road. The way things used to be

This is little Pouri A, up the road. The way things used to be

This is what a well site used to look like, in days past. Maybe this is what the Minister for Energy thinks a little bitty well site in a small corner of conservation land will look like. We will hardly notice it is there, will we?

Mangahewa D (photo: Fiona Clark)

Mangahewa D (photo: Fiona Clark)

In fact, a modern well site is much more likely to look like this. Difficult to ignore. But it is not just the well sites that people should worry about. It is what happens if the exploratory well is successful. I realized this week that while I have shown a multitude of well sites, heavy road transport, helicopters even, I have overlooked showing what successful well sites can mean.

Motunui (photo by Fiona Clark)

Motunui (photo by Fiona Clark)

This is Motunui. It is just over 5km down the road from us. It dates back to the Think Big era of the early ‘80s. Now it is back in full production (methanol) and…roaring. We get to hear it some days, particularly when we get the frequent cloud inversion layers. Some think it means jobs and wealth. Shame about the closest neighbours who get unrelenting noise.

Waitara Valley

The Waitara Valley Plant is just over 4.5 km from us, as the crow flies. It is another Think Big relic brought back into production with the current boom. It is also appallingly sited for noise dissemination and impacts on a large number of people. The low frequency noise resonates through the upstairs of our house. Since Christmas, we have gone to sleep listening to the droning hum every night and whenever we wake, the droning hum is still there. The quiet nights of our countryside appears to have gone. We fear this may be permanent noise which resonates through our house despite our double glazing. The prospect is unutterably depressing but how much worse must it be for the many neighbours who live closer?

McKee (photo by Fiona Clark)

McKee (photo by Fiona Clark)

McKee is just over 5.5km up the road from us. We can’t hear it but ALL the heavy traffic passes us. It started life as just a production station but has grown and grown and then grown some more until the area was rezoned industrial. It probably seemed a good idea at the start to locate it out the back in the countryside but locals living nearby or on the sole transport route may beg to differ.

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This is Turangi A, a few kilometers away heading towards the coast. It is early days yet but it looks to be on track to be another McKee. There is near continual flaring there now, belching black smoke. I keep hearing claims that we lead the way in Taranaki with best international practice. So how come we mandate ongoing flaring when other countries have banned it?

The mistake is to think that there is anyone tasked with planning, should the exploratory exercise be successful. No sirree. It is more a case of: “6 E. Can we place a tick in box 6E? Okay, yes. So 7A – what do they say for that?” And then we get: “Oh, they’ve found potentially commercial reserves. Well they are already there, so there is precedent to continue.”

Look to Tikorangi and North Taranaki for the future this government wants for the country. Our fresh-faced Minister of Energy, Simon Bridges, could be mistaken for the taxpayer-funded PR spokesman for the petrochemical industry – in my opinion at least. In a move of wonderful irony, young Simon is also the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and doesn’t that speak volumes for what this government thinks of climate change? There is a Tui billboard moment for you. This is the Minister who didn’t know there was a 200 000 hectare pristine forest park in an area he put up for petrochemical exploration This is the Minister that refers to ecological issues as “emotive claptrap”.

This is the New Zealand the National Government sees as the way of the future. Industrialising the countryside. Climate change? Let others worry about that.

Motunui (photo by Fiona Clark)

Motunui (photo by Fiona Clark)

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.
010
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

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