Public concerns about fracking have been acknowledged by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council but it will not take further action unless the findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) report require it.
The council has decided to include two paragraphs in its draft Long Term Plan acknowledging the concerns raised by more than 200 submitters arguing the use of hydraulic fracturing posed risks to the environment and the Heretaunga Plains aquifer.
Much of a hearing last week was spent listening to submitters' concerns based on fracking in Taranaki and overseas.
"HBRC has heard the concerns of a number of its citizens and acknowledges the risk around the practice of hydraulic fracturing and has taken action to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment," the statement read.
"Should the Commissioner's report include environmental effects that need addressing through the Regional Resource Management Plan then HBRC will undertake notifying the necessary plan changes.
"HBRC values the protection of ecosystems in the region and recognises that mineral exploration/extraction poses long-term risk to soil, water and ecosystems. HBRC will ensure all aspects of risk to soil water and ecosystems are avoided, remedied or mitigated in each application for mineral exploration and extraction."
Many submitters asked for fracking to be declared a prohibited activity in the Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP), while others asked for additional funding to handle any consents.
A council staff report said the council was legally obliged to consider any consent application and assess its effects, and the cost of the assessment fell to the applicant. As TAG Oil and Apache Corp had stated they were now pursuing their oil exploration elsewhere in the near future, a consent application was unlikely in the near future.
Council member Christine Scott tabled the council motion.
"We have heard a lot of concerns," she said, adding she doubted anyone there didn't have queries.
"That is one of the reasons why we supported an approach to the PCE, to independently assess the information that is around.
"I don't think we're in a position to debate the pros and cons, but it is a fact that all actions carry some risks and we have to make sure that our processes are tight enough to make sure those risks are mitigated."
The amendment still needs final approval at the next council meeting.