Media Releases - 06 September 2019

Fracking Moratorium Lifted in Western Australia

  • The WA Government has today lifted the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on existing petroleum titles 
  • Significant concerns remain surrounding the way in which the Government’s Implementation Plan is being run out 
  • Moratorium to be officially lifted even though there are limited, to no, regulations currently implemented

The Western Australian Government quietly released the details on the lifting of their moratorium today. The plan follows on from the Scientific Inquiry release in November 2018, that indicated fracking was potentially safe if well regulated. 

Acting State Director for The Wilderness Society, Kit Sainsbury, commented: “Predictably this lifting of the moratorium has been met with relatively stunned looks across the faces of the environmental community—let alone for those landholders who suddenly find themselves battling the oncoming gas brigade. Significant concerns remain about how they have landed at this point when their own Implementation Plan is barely out of the starting blocks. Many key details of how the Government will best manage fracking in our safe is not due to be concluded by December 2020. How can they progress these proposals safely until all regulations have been implemented? 

“Dropping the plan quietly on a Friday really shows what the Government thinks of this process. Notably, little less than an hour after it being released did the first gas exploration proposal get announced by the WA Environmental Protection Authority for assessment. 

 “Alarmingly, the Government intends to now officially lift the moratorium on fracking on existing leases whilst there is still so much work to do. Many of the regulations it intends to implement run through to December 2020 before their conclusion. 

 “The Government has been outspoken about wanting to ensure that the community is protected in these areas designated for fracking activities, however, these plans are really at the engagement stage. How can proposals be effectively reviewed when the WA community hasn’t been transparently consulted on these plans? 

"The Government indicated in November 2018 that they intended to open up around five million hectares of our state for fracking—roughly the size of Tasmania—through exploration and extraction leases. These areas include the midwest with the largest portion being found in the Canning Basin in the Kimberley." 

Kit Sainsbury continued: “The remarkable thing is that even on the Government’s own Implementation Plan website there is no information added to the section under ‘Consultation’. 

“Equally, the Government was very keen to point out that the iconic Dampier Peninsula will not be subjected to fracking but had no clarity around the border for where this started and ended. They appear to have landed on a boundary in advance of their proposed date of October this year. Where is the transparent evidence of how this has been achieved? 

“The irony is not lost with the Government making this announcement in the same week that they offer up their Climate Policy Issues Paper amidst a debate on the climate issues affecting our state. Fracking processes will not move us towards a ‘clean energy’ future so this decision seems completely at odds with their policy work in this area. 

“We expect better from a Government which continually pushes a cleaner energy future for WA but yet persists in pursuing a fracking agenda. The cards just don’t stack up and the Western Australian public are not fools. 

“We will be watching the way this plan is implemented very carefully indeed to ensure that the rights of Traditional Owners and affected land holders are upheld. 

“On the eve of Australia’s Threatened Species Day, the McGowan Government is making a safe climate future of our own species even more threatened." 

MEDIA ALERT: The Implementation Plan can be located here

For further comment contact Kit Sainsbury, The Wilderness Society Western Australia Acting State Director, on 089420725