International oil and gas company OMV has been granted a marine consent to continue drilling in the South Taranaki Bight despite ongoing opposition from west coast hapu and iwi.
While the company has been drilling in the area since 2009, the consent is the first of its kind to be given by the Environmental Protection Authority under strict new rules introduced 17 months ago.
The consent allows OMV to continue to drill up to seven development wells in the Maari oil field, but the authority said there are 33 conditions attached which would be monitored and enforced.
The new regulatory regime was designed to tighten up operating requirements and OMV had already received a formal warning letter for non-compliance under the new laws.
The EPA said as a result, OMV would be subject to more frequent inspections.
A committee appointed by the EPA's board said that the overall effect of the development drilling programme on the environment was minor and in many cases were temporary.
Any appeals must be lodged with the High Court within 15 working days.