Bridges: Oil ban is 'wrecking ball' for regions

An oil rig between Stratford and Midhurst in Taranaki. Ardern will announce no more offshore exploration permits and

An oil rig between Stratford and Midhurst in Taranaki. Ardern will announce no more offshore exploration permits and

Ms Woods said the decision would not affect the 22 active offshore licences, which cover roughly 100,000 sqkm of ocean, with the last one to finish in 2030.

There are 31 oil and gas exploration permits now active and 22 are offshore.

The move is part of the Labour Government's manifesto to reduce climate pollution. "As the industry itself admits, there is good potential for more to be found".

Fear of the economic costs have been strongest in the regions - Taranaki in particular - and New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom called the decision a "kick in the guts".

"I have seen that happen once in the 1980s and I don't want to see that again".

"People might say that you could have done a hell of a lot more".

"We have the highest GDP in the country per capita - it's concerning the government has made this announcement without a plan. or if they have one we haven't seen it".

"We're striking the right balance for New Zealand", Ardern said. However, another two thirds national energy use is industrial and transport related, for which complete renewable alternatives are not now economically viable.

But Ardern said nobody would be losing their jobs as a result of the move. Many in the energy industry say they were caught completely unawares by the announcement.

Mr Jeffries says if new gas supplies are unavailable then coal will continue to be used domestically for purposes such as dairy plants.

But the conservative opposition National Party accused Ardern of "economic vandalism" that could put thousands of jobs at risk. In its announcement however, the government said it wanted to be clear no current jobs would be affected.

Her government, elected a year ago, has ambitious goals of generating all power in New Zealand from renewable sources by 2035 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, said it was a "historic moment, and a huge win for our climate and people power". There will be public discourse in New Zealand over whether to allow companies with existing licenses - including Statoil and OMV - to carry out extraction if oil or gas were discovered.

We are disappointed that onshore Taranaki, where communities have to deal with ongoing fracking and exploration, is exempt from the ban, and that existing offshore exploration contracts will remain.

"But nonetheless this is still a very significant decision and I think it will be globally significant". It certainly has nothing to do with climate change.

The policy is also a significant concession for New Zealand First, which has always been a pro-industry party and is heavily dependent on regional votes.

"(We are) taking an important step to address climate change and create a clean, green and sustainable future for New Zealand", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

A week later more than 200 protesters also blocked entrance to the New Zealand Petroleum Conference, during which the government held off on announcing any new permits and signalled it wanted to move away from fossil fuels.

Tens of thousands of people, alongside iwi, have marched, protested, petitioned and successfully lobbied their local representatives to oppose oil exploration over the last seven years.

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