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Beaches at risk if oil drilling goes ahead - Greens

Published: 11:41AM Tuesday April 30, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Government is putting Auckland's west coast beaches at risk of an oil spill if it goes ahead with deep sea drilling, the Green Party says.

Yesterday, Minister of Energy Simon Bridges announced that the tender process offering up new permits to conduct exploratory deep sea drilling in New Zealand waters will soon begin.

Specifically, offshore areas in the Reinga-Northland basin, the Taranaki Basin, and the Great South Canterbury Basin will be put up for open bidding on May 24.

It will be the Government's second round of putting areas up for tender in a bid to attract competing offers.

In response to the plan, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told TV ONE's Breakfast this morning that she thinks the Government should instead be investing in renewable energy sources.

"We aren't opposed to shallow drilling as we do not want to see the country move away from this high dependence on fossil fuels and into renewable areas, and we think this is where the economy ought to be directed.

"But we are absolutely opposed to deep sea oil drilling, because the risks are too high and that is what is being proposed particularly for the West Coast areas just north of Auckland," she said.

Turei told Breakfast that she thinks the Government is putting the economic interests of oil companies over the environmental values of the local people.

"You can't mitigate the effects of an oil spill in deep sea drilling, it is too deep, the dangers are too great and the risk to the New Zealand public and to our environment is just too high," she added.

Yesterday, Bridges said that Government is "committed" to long-term responsible and safe management of the resources.

However, Turei disagrees, saying that there is no way Bridges could ensure such protections in future years.

"Simon Bridges can say what he wants to put in the protections but actually he cannot guarantee that," she said.

Turei also said that she cannot see how deep sea drilling will create jobs for New Zealanders.

"Companies will come in from overseas, they will bring in their own people to do that work, and most of the processing will be done off-shore by other people.

"So there's going to be very few jobs for New Zealanders here. There are more jobs in conservation and tourism in New Zealand than there are in mining," she said.