Dunedin council divide on gas exploration

The Dunedin City Council is divided over seeking support business from gas exploration, and the mayor Dave Cull reveals he is still conflicted. ODT – City in race to host supply base:

Mr Cull also said the idea would be worthy of consideration if a case for it could be made, such as improving emergency response times.

Royalties from oil and gas revenue could help cover the debt-servicing costs associated with such an investment, but only if the Government agreed to share them with councils, he said.

The council would ”certainly consider” investment in infrastructure or other incentives to support the industry in Dunedin, but the oil companies’ needs would only become clear in time, he said.

That’s a fudgier response than yesterday:

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme he personally favours the development of renewable fuels to combat climate change, but his council will try to maximise the economic benefit of the drilling.

I wonder if Jinty MacTavish has had words with him

Cull keeps talking about local royalties but that’s very unlikely. He should know this, maybe he is using them to leave an excuse to oppose.

Deputy mayor and others:

Some councillors were quick to celebrate, Cr Andrew Noone saying it was ”fantastic news”.

”It’s now a two-horse race, so we have got a 50% chance of securing a supply base,” he said.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes agreed, saying news of Shell’s test drill was ”great”, while Cr Andrew Whiley described Shell’s announcement as ”simply awesome”.

All three men hoped the industry would eventually provide a much-needed boost for the city’s ailing economy, but Cr Staynes also suggested Dunedin could do more to secure hosting rights for any logistics base that might follow.

Green councilors in Dunedin don’t want  any gas or oil exploration.

… other councillors maintained their opposition to the industry, including Cr Aaron Hawkins, who said the council had a ”moral obligation” to protect the interests of future generations.

”I don’t think it’s fair to clamour over a few jobs now and leave our grandchildren to pick up the tab environmentally and economically.

”Frankly, I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at economic development.”

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.”

So they are against it ideologically.

Three other councillors, Crs Neville Peat, David Benson-Pope and Richard Thomson, “expressed either concern or outright opposition”.

Four – Doug Hall, Hilary Calvert, Mike Lord and Lee Vandervis – “welcomed Shell’s plans”.

John Bezett and Kate Wilson could not be contacted

That’s five against, seven for, two not determined and a conflicted mayor who is getting pressure from the business community as well as from his Green lobbiests.

Dunedin doesn’t get to decide if drilling happens but they do have a chance to contest the support business.

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