Guidelines provide clear direction on hydraulic fracturing
New guidelines for managing the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing support the environmentally responsible development of resources, have been announced by Environment Minister Amy Adams.
“The environmental risks of onshore petroleum development, including hydraulic fracturing can be effectively managed if best practice is followed. These guidelines provide clear direction so that hydraulic fracturing is carried out in a robust, controlled and well regulated manner,” says Adams.
The guidelines clarify the regulatory roles of central and local government for activities relating to hydraulic fracturing, and provide guidance to local government to appropriately manage the activity under the Resource Management Act 1991.
The guidelines cover the lifecycle of onshore petroleum wells, from initial seismic surveying through to decommissioning activities.
Adams says: “The guidelines clarify the responsibilities of councils from initial investigation and planning to consenting, and will support councils so that the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are managed appropriately across the country.”
The guidelines follow the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE’s) interim report that evaluated the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in New Zealand. The PCE is expected to release her final report this year.
The guidelines have been peer reviewed by local and international resource management experts, and incorporate feedback from councils, NGOs, the petroleum and primary industries sector, DHBs and iwi to ensure the guidance is robust.
As a result of consultation the guidelines now include additional information on coal seam gas extraction, clarify of the types of waste that land farming may be an appropriate option for managing, and provide clarification that the guidelines apply to onshore activities.
The guidelines are an important step to ensuring hydraulic fracturing is managed appropriately, and the Ministry for the Environment will be monitoring the effectiveness of the guidelines as they are implemented by councils over the next 12 months.