Hydraulic fracturing opponents have jumped the gun by praising Hastings for taking what they thought was a "frack-free" stance.
Online comments via the Hastings District Council Facebook page recorded people cheering on the perceived fracking-free status of Hastings when in fact the council had agreed on taking a "precautionary" approach to the controversial mining technique.
One comment was left by Peter Hill, a councillor from the Selwyn District Council, who said he was looking for support to declare Selwyn fracking free. "I'd love to have your motion wording before our meeting next Wednesday when I've promised a Notice of Motion on the subject."
Another comment by Havelock North's Liz Remmerswaal (pictured) said: "Dear Hastings district councillors, congratulations on voting unanimously to go frack[ing]-free, I am so proud of your boldness and bravery and vision for the Bay. Great leadership too!"
Fracking was a high-profile issue at the council's long-term plan hearing where people had asked for Hastings to be declared fracking free. The council released a statement to clarify its position following the Facebook comments.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the council would wait for the results of a review on fracking before taking any formal stance on this issue. "While Hastings District Council is not a consenting authority for the majority of the issues associated with exploration and extraction of minerals, we will take a position which will ensure the protection of our water resources, particularly the Heretaunga Plains aquifer."
He said the council would seek to protect the aquifer and other waterways as an immediate priority. "This could involve [the council's] formal opposition during a consenting process and we will adopt a precautionary approach."
The council agreed there may be significant mineral resources in the region which could generate growth in GDP but their location was unknown.
"The benefits which could come from the extraction of minerals need to be clearly balanced against possible environmental risks. It may be possible that certain exploration and extraction methodology could be used at some sites in Hastings district which could potentially add value to Hawke's Bay, while satisfying environmental concerns," Mr Yule said.
Online commentators, after understanding the council's decision, thought it was a step in the right direction.
"I had read the unconfirmed minutes from the meeting on Wednesday and while it was not all that some had thought or wanted, I felt it was still a positive stance," Ralph Hogan said on Facebook.
"Oh yes, a bit disappointing, we were obviously misinformed. A step in the right direction though at least. So, how about you shelve my applause until you do decide to go frack free," Mariposa Perezosa said.