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City of Swan councillors have voted to not support any form of unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas and fracking within the city's boundaries. Picture: ANITA McINNES

Swan says no to fracking

THE City of Swan has voted to not support unconventional gas mining within its boundaries citing the need for caution due to big residential populations, sensitive environments, water resources and horticultural land uses.

At a general meeting on Wednesday, October 19 councillors voted unanimously for a motion put forward by Swan Valley Gidgegannup councillor Darryl Trease and seconded by councillor Rod Henderson.

All the councillors agreed to not support any form of unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas and fracking within the City of Swan.

They also voted to have city officers investigate the appropriate means of regulating petroleum exploration and production activities in the city through a scheme amendment and to prepare a report to the council on available options by 30 June 30 next year.

Lock the Gate Alliance said landholders, business people and other concerned residents had welcomed the City of Swan’s decision not to support fracking or any other form of unconventional gas development within its boundaries.

Michael Taylor from Taylor’s Art and Coffee House said the council had responded to community concern at the prospect of unconventional gas mining in the area.

“We have gas leases over much of the City of Swan and the council to its credit has listened to the people and chosen to support the residents, businesses, the environment and tourism over the short term interests of a gas company,” he said.

Vicki Worth from Eureka Compost said unconventional gas mining was an inappropriate land use for the Swan Valley and surrounds.

An officer’s report presented to the council said the permit holders [Southern Sky Energy and Macallum Group Ltd] had indicated that they have no plans for any exploration or production activities in the city, and no plans for fracking.

“One of the permits extends into areas of the Swan Valley, including sensitive environmental areas and horticultural production areas,’’ the report said.

“The State Government has issued a press release stating that it will not approve any activities within the Swan Valley.”

“Recent public interest in the permits has resulted in interest on the role the council can play in regulating activities associated with petroleum exploration and production.

“Under the Petroleum and Geothermal Resources Act 1967, production and exploration activities are not exempt from the requirements of planning legislation.

“The city has a role as planning authority and can regulate activities within the scheme area.

“Notwithstanding that the city has a role in the management of its local planning scheme it is considered premature for the city to prepare an appropriate scheme amendment to govern land use activity in the Swan Valley and its surrounds until the outcome of the Western Australian Planning Commission’s draft Swan Valley development Plan is adopted under the proposed Swan Valley Protection Bill 2016.

But in Bill no protection from fracking, Echo News, October 22 West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti said a direction by the Mines and Petroleum Minister restricting gas exploration in the Swan Valley should be spelt out in the Bill and under the State Government’s proposal, changes to the development plan could be made by the Planning Minister and did not require parliamentary approval.

“The position in respect to fracking could be changed by a future minister,’’ she said.

“The draft development plan circulated for discussion does not mention the banning of petroleum exploration.

“The government has not made the final development plan public.

“In respect to the Swan Valley Protection Bill 2016, the Government has yet to bring this legislation on for debate in the State Parliament.’’

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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