Lifting fracking ban given thumbs up
Business and community leaders in Broome have welcomed a State Government decision to allow the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking in certain parts of the Kimberley where petroleum titles already exist.
Premier Mark McGowan last week announced a moratorium would only be lifted on existing petroleum titles after a 12-month inquiry by Environmental Protection Authority chairman Dr Tom Hatton.
He made 44 recommendations, which have been accepted.
The independent scientific report found the risk to people and the environment was low.
The policy includes the need for consent by traditional owners and farmers before hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, begins.
Mr McGowan said fracking would continue to be banned on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, and public water source areas would also be declared offlimits.
There are 19 petroleum titles, leases and permits in the Kimberley region, although that does not automatically mean fracking will occur. For projects to proceed, they must pass a raft of new regulations, with Environmental Protection Authority approval required and the need to stack up commercially for the companies involved.
Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said he was relieved there was finally some clarity on the matter. “I look forward to any economic benefits it provides for the region,” he said.
Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said there should be little doubt hydraulic fracturing was low-risk if well regulated and managed.
“Lets hope the industry and landowners are given the respect, opportunity and freedom to work together to find common ground for the future without undue pressure from various special interest groups,” he said.
Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Ken Baston welcomed the decision and said it would present new opportunities. “This is an industry that has previously operated safely and successfully in northern WA and I am relieved the Government has taken a practical and informed approach to this issue,” he said.
Greens MP Robin Chapple said while the remaining 2 per cent of WA land off limits to fracking did not sound like much, it equated to 5.1 million hectares, “most of which will be in the Kimberley”.
A typical fracking operation, or frack spread, in Australia.