Congratulations James Price Point, Broome and Australia! The Wilderness Society is excited and relieved by Woodside’s decision this month to pull out of the destructive gas hub project planned for James Price Point in the Kimberley.
This outcome is a testament to people power. It shows that communities are capable of stopping inappropriate developments, even when those developments are worth $45 billion, lead by some of the most powerful companies in the world, and backed by governments.
It's also a wake-up call to resource companies about how important social licence is. Woodside has deemed its James Price Project 'financially unviable'. This is in part due to the continual stopping and delaying of work at the project site by a committed group of local people supported by a coordinated international movement. Woodside has learnt the hard way that they should not have attempted to force an unpopular development on a community that doesn’t want them there.
A major lesson that Australia can take from all of this is that states cannot be trusted with environmental assessments. Premier Barnett and the Western Australian Government have been acting as both the gas hub’s main proponent and it’s primary environmental assessor. This inherent conflict of interest is simply unworkable and the Federal Government must be involved to provide some rigour to the process. We continue to call on Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to rule against this destructive project once and for all.
In the meantime, Premier Barnett and his government must officially dump this tainted project so that the people of Broome and Traditional Custodians can live in peace without the threat of alternative projects at James Price Point hanging over their heads.
While Woodside's announcement is a huge step in the right direction, our work is not done. The company has stated that it will immediately begin exploring other ways to exploit the Kimberley’s gas - in fact, they've already suggested building a smaller gas factory at James Price Point, which we find absolutely unacceptable. We’ll continue to work with local people to ensure that the Kimberley’s extraordinary natural beauty and cultural heritage is protected forever.
For now, we'd like to thank the tens of thousands of people who have joined this movement, and worked tirelessly on this campaign for many years. Whether you signed a petition, donated to one of our appeals, or put your body in front of bulldozers in Broome - this victory belongs to you.
What does this mean for the court case?
The Wilderness Society's historic court case is primarily against the Western Australian Environment Minister and state's Environmental Protection Authority (the case is about the assessment of the precinct, rather than Woodside's project in particular). We’ll be seeking legal advice about the implications of Woodside's announcement, but at this stage we believe it’s still important to pursue our case in the Supreme Court.