Media Releases - 15 July 2019

WA fracking implementation plan ‘unimplemented’

  • The WA Government has released its Implementation Plan for Fracking in the State
  • Follows on from the Scientific Inquiry which was released in November 2018
  • Moratorium to be officially lifted despite there being limited-to-no regulations currently implemented

The Western Australian Government quietly released the details of their Implementation Plan for fracking in the state on Friday evening. 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: “Comparable to its lack of fanfare around the release of the document is a lack of substantial progress. We have waited for seven months for this to be released and there really is a notable lack of detail.

“Dropping the plan at 17:30 on a Friday evening during the winter school holidays really sent out its own message.

“Most concerning in the report is that the government intends to now officially lift the moratorium on fracking on existent 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 consulted on these plans?

The government indicated in November 2018 that it intended to open up around five million hectares of Western Australia for fracking through exploration and extraction leases. These areas include the midwest, with the largest portion being found in the Canning Basin in the Kimberley.

Dr. Sainsbury continued: “The government made a lot of noise about the ‘Traditional Owner Veto’. However, the devil is in the detail with these matters and the Implementation Plan doesn’t effectively review this point. The suggestion that they will need to consent solely to ‘production wells’ indicates that companies can come and frack freely during exploration. This will have no community support and must be clarified.

“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. This appears to still be the case, and the plan suggests the government may get this completed by October. How this can occur within that time frame appears highly ambitious.

“The irony of the government looking to create a ‘Clean Energy Fund’ from royalties accrued from a very un-clean energy source of fracked gas is not lost on the community. We should be moving beyond fossil fuels as our core source of energy and invest exclusively in clean energy sources moving forward. This fund shouldn’t come from fracking royalties; it should be a government-led fund away from this industry. Paying for green technology from dirty industries appears to be the ultimate slap in the face for the public.

“We expect better from a government which continually pushes a cleaner energy future for WA, 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 are upheld."

The Implementation Plan can be located here.

For further comment, contact Kit Sainsbury, Wilderness Society Western Australia State Director, on (08) 9420 7255.

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