Lift­ing frack­ing ban given thumbs up

Broome Advertiser - - News - Glenn Cord­ing­ley and Jakeb Wad­dell

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.

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