National opens conservation land for oil and gas exploration
8 April 2014
National opening up conservation land for oil and gas exploration
The National Government is opening up over 4,600 square kilometres of conservation land for petroleum exploration, the Green Party said today.
The conservation land, which is part of Block Offer 2014, is on the West Coast region of the South Island and includes almost all of Victoria Forest Park.
“New Zealanders love our conservation estate and want it protected, not put up for tender so big oil companies can dig it up,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
“National is putting the financial interests of petroleum companies ahead of protecting the conservation land that New Zealanders love.
“Victoria Forest Park is conservation land for a reason: the plants and wildlife that live there are worth protecting.”
The Department of Conservation describes Victoria Forest Park as having some tracks that lead to untouched landscapes with stunning river, lake and mountain scenery, as well as pristine beech forest. The park has several ecological areas and a wildlife corridor, and at times great spotted kiwi can be heard at night. Simon Bridges said he had never heard of Victoria Forest Park.
“It’s unacceptable that the Energy Minister has never heard of the Victoria Forest Park, the conservation area that he is now hoping will be exploited for oil and gas,” said Mr Hughes.
“Visitors to Victoria Forest Park should be able to hear the call of our endangered Kiwi birds, not the mechanical drone of drilling rigs.
“In 2010, 40,000 New Zealanders marched down Queenstreet to protect the conservation land they love from mining.
“The Green Party will protect our conservation land, not open it up to mining,” Mr Hughes said.