The Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board is girding to take on the energy industry on the controversial issue of fracking, which has been linked overseas to earthquakes.
Board member Paul McMahon won unanimous support last week for a motion to ask the city council to call for a moratorium on any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in petroleum exploration areas in Canterbury.
He fears fracking might contribute to water pollution or earthquakes.
The board also wants an urgent briefing from the Ministry of Economic Development and ECan in relation to the three Canterbury petroleum exploration permits.
It wants to know whether the two land permits would allow fracking to take place in the Christchurch region, and whether the ministry and ECan would allow fracking to be used as an extraction method here if coal seam gas or shale gas were found.
L&M Energy, which holds the two permits which cover much of north, central, and south Canterbury, says it has not undertaken fracking in its permit and had not formed a plan to do so.
Mr McMahon said he was very pleased the motion got unanimous support. Fracking injected millions of litres of water at high pressure with sand and toxic chemicals into underground shale rock to fracture it, he said.
However, it was not the fracturing that had been found to have caused the earthquakes. An independent report into earthquakes in Lancashire concluded it was the massive amounts of water getting in between the rock in a fault and effectively lubricating it, he said.
It was "beyond reckless and bordering on insanity" to allow fracking in Canterbury without categorical proof it would not cause further earthquakes in the already stricken province, he said. "I do not like the idea that somewhere out in rural Canterbury there is someone with a permit that might effectively allow them to unwittingly lubricate a faultline," he said. A moratorium on fracking was the only sensible option.
He's also concerned about possible effects on water, especially the rural water supplies which the agricultural industry relied on. "And the closer to Christchurch it gets, the more concerning it is for the city."
A woman in his ward had relatives in rural Colorado who were driven from their farm because of pollution in the water from fracking. Something like 500 chemicals were used in fracking, he said. "I want whatever decision is made on fracking to be made publicly and based on evidence - and not based on on what the industry says," he said.
L&M managing director Kent Anson said its intended work programme for the south Canterbury permit was publicly available via the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website.
"L&M has not undertaken fracking in the permit, is not currently undertaking fracking in the permit, and has not formed a plan to undertake fracking in the permit," he said.