The government is being taken to court by Greenpeace and Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi te Whanau-a-Apanui, over its decision to grant an oil exploration permit to Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.
The government issued the permit to Petrobras last year for deep sea oil exploration in the Raukumara Basin off the East Cape.
Greenpeace and te Whanau-a-Apanui are seeking to have Petrobras’ permit quashed.
Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel believes the government is ignoring the lessons from the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The BP spill was a game-changer, highlighting the very real risks of dangerous deep sea drilling for both important wildlife and the economy,” says Steve.
“Rather than approving ever riskier oil drilling projects the government should be developing a comprehensive plan to end New Zealand’s dependence on oil.”
Steve says the real economic security for New Zealand will come from developing its own green fuels and ramping up the efficiency of its public and private transport, not scraping the bottom of the oil barrel in fragile habitats and treacherous seas like those off the East Cape.
Both Greenpeace and te Whanau-a-Apanui will argue that the government acted unlawfully under the following ground:
‘Failing to properly consider the environmental impact of activities associated with the permit as required under international law.’
‘Failing to properly consider the potential effect on marine wildlife; the licences relate to areas close to environmentally-sensitive sites which support species such as whales and dolphins that are legally protected.’
‘Failing to properly undertake their requirements to have proper regard to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, including consultation with te Whanau-a-Apanui.’
‘Failing to give consideration to the iwi’s fishing rights and customary title claims to the area.’
Steve says this is the first time an oil permit has been challenged in the New Zealand courts on both environmental and Treaty of Waitangi grounds.
If the judicial review is successful, Petrobras’ permit will be quashed.