ECan votes against deep sea oil drilling

Christchurch City councillor Vicki Buck descriped ECan's decision as "awesome" (File)
Christchurch City councillor Vicki Buck descriped ECan's decision as "awesome" (File)

A submission by Oil Free Otautahi and 350.org has resulted in the rejection of a proposal to start deep sea oil drilling off the Canterbury coast by the Environment Canterbury regional council (ECan).

Nine people voted to oppose the drilling, with just two councillors, Peter Scott and John Sunckell, voting that it should go ahead. Councillor Elizabeth Cunningham abstained.

ECan joins Christchurch City Council, Auckland City Council and Dunedin City Council in voting to oppose deep sea oil drilling - with all three of them rejecting lease block offers in the last fortnight.

Christchurch City councillor Vicki Buck descriped ECan's decision as "awesome" and "ground-breaking".

Oil Free Otautahi's submitter Charles Drace said the fact that four councils had now voted to oppose the proposal meant the Government would now have to take notice.

"These councils are not only reflecting the widespread public concern about climate change and the Government's subsidising of oil and coal at the expense of renewable energy, but also the moral and ethical dimensions of global warming that local and central Government must bring into their decision-making processes," he said.

Mr Drace said the submission that he presented today was to try and expose the "falsehoods" that the Government had been touting in regard to the impact of deep sea oil drilling.

"Things like it's going to be good for the economy, it's going to be good for jobs, it's not dangerous, all that type of thing - we clearly examined those points," he said.

He explained that Oil Free Otautahi also took ECan through the emotional reactions of Cantabrians - particularly in regard to the trauma felt after the 2011 earthquake - as well as the moral implications of deep sea oil drilling.

Mr Drace said they responded "really favourably" to that.

"After the vote was taken, the chairman David Bedford said ECan had been examining whether they need to be more responsible for the needs of the people of New Zealand and the world," he said.

"[Those responsibilities] are not specifically laid out in the RMA (Resource Management Act) or the Local Body Act, which is what usually governs their decisions."

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