Helen Harvey – Stuff.co.nz
On Sunday, February 21, Jeanette Wilson returned home from a trip to Australia to discover 54kg of explosive was scheduled to go off on her South Taranaki farm in just four days’ time, on Thursday, February 25.
Shell Todd Oil Services (STOS) were carrying out seismic testing on farms all over South Taranaki, but Wilson said she didn’t know anything about it.
She said her partner, a dairy farmer, told her he had signed something, but wasn’t sure what it was.
“He has been really, really busy working all hours God sends. The payout is appalling low. He hasn’t got the help he needs on the farm. He’s under a lot of stress and pressure.”
Wilson believed STOS needed to get her signature as well as her partner’s because the Crown Minerals Act 1991, section 53, says any access agreement needed to be “agreed in writing between the permit holder and each owner and occupier of the land”. And she hadn’t signed anything, she said.
STOS acting general manager Iwan Bridge said he wouldn’t discuss specifics of an individual case.
“But what we can say is that we believe we have received appropriate land access approvals for this property.”
Wilson had written to STOS asking them not to carry out the testing on her farm because they didn’t have her consent.
“I’m just waiting for their response. I do hope that I am able to stop this and preserve our relationship – 18 years, two children – we’ve been through a lot together. But my issue isn’t with my partner.”
She didn’t have any concerns about having listening devices on her farm, she said.
“But then I found out there were 39 holes drilled in the farm, where I live with my children and my partner, and each of these is 19 metres deep and at the base of them is 2kgs of dynamite due to be exploded today (Thursday). And I have not been consulted. I don’t know what the likely impact is and if it could affect our water.”
According to the Taranaki Fresh Water Plan, any seismic survey needed to be more than 100 metres from a well used for water supply purposes and Wilson said one of the survey pegs was only 10 metres.
The Taranaki Regional Council confirmed it was investigating a complaint relating to seismic surveying in South Taranaki.
Iwan Bridge said there had been concerns from a small number of people about the seismic survey work and STOS continued to work with them.
“We are very aware that there are a few people in the South Taranaki area who have concerns about the seismic programme. We are working hard to understand and address these individual issues as they arise.
“We have received permission for access to approximately 95 per cent of the properties within the STOS seismic survey area, which is a permitted activity under the South Taranaki District Plan, the Stratford District Plan and the Taranaki Regional Freshwater Plan.”
STOS had talked to about 1400 landowners, two Iwi authorities, five hapu and various community groups and local government stakeholders during the last year, Bridge said.
“As a result of these discussions, numerous modifications have been made to the original survey area in order to minimise our impact on farming operations, specific residential areas, some roads, pipelines and waterways and wahi tapu sites.”
Taranaki Energy Watch had requested a legal opinion and were advised that under the Crown Minerals Act 1991 every landowner and occupier had to sign any access agreement, spokeswoman Sarah Roberts said.
“I’ve met with several families who have a range of concerns in relation to the land access issue.”