BULLSBROOK, Swan Valley and The Vines landholders and residents are invited to join a convoy of farmers with utes heading to the city to demand politicians protect their land and water from fracking gasfields ahead of the upcoming State Election.
Farmers and residents from across the Mid West will gather with Bullsbrook residents in the open space between Great Northern Hwy and Truscott St in Bullsbrook from 10am to 11am on Saturday February 18, before continuing through the Swan Valley into the city.
Swan Valley, Ellenbrook and The Vines residents are invited to join in at the next stop from 11.30am to noon at West Swan Hall, on the corner of West Swan Rd and Henley St, Henley Brook.
Anne Gething, a farmer from the group organising the Bullsbrook stop, said the Ute Muster was aimed at highlighting gas industry moves to start exploration and possibly mining in the region, as well as supporting farmers from further north who have exploration on their door steps.
“Right now we have a gas company with a permit to explore for gas in parts of the local area with Brigadoon, Upper Swan, The Vines and Bullsbrook [residents] all at risk and having no protection from drilling or fracking, our properties are at risk,” she said.
“We are concerned that the unconventional gas industry poses a significant risk to our water resources, including depletion and contamination, which along with air pollution from flaring and venting could have adverse impacts on the health of residents.
“Unconventional gas extraction methods including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling may be used to access the gas out of this area, but councils and residents are not able to prevent this access to their land.
“Our vibrant agricultural and vigneron industries are dependent on good clean water so why would we risk contaminating our water supply for a short term invasive and polluting industry?’’
Department of Mines and Petroleum executive director of petroleum Jeff Haworth said the Swan Valley planning area had a ministerial directive in place preventing access to any areas within the Swan Valley for the purposes of petroleum exploration and production.
But Swan Valley restriction could change (Echo News, October 13, 2016) established that the direction was not set in stone and could be changed.
In answer to questions the department’s petroleum tenure and land access general manager Bev Bower said a direction was issued by the position not a person but the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 did allow for revocation or alteration if future ministers wished to make changes.
When told residents who were against fracking say the unconventional gas industry risks contaminating a water supply for a short term gain, Mr Haworth said the quality of the state’s water sources was protected through a collaborative approach across government.
“Agencies involved include the departments of Water, Environment Regulation, Health, Mines and Petroleum and the Environment Protection Agency where appropriate,’’ he said.
“As with any industrial or mining activity, there are potential risks to groundwater, wetlands and waterways, which can be posed by well integrity failure, surface contamination from spills, the release of hydrocarbons, or gas leaks.
“These risks can be mitigated and managed through best practice and stringent regulation.
“As part of the approvals process the departments of Environment Regulation, Mines and Petroleum and the Environment Protection Agency may require the operating company (licensee or occupier) to conduct onsite environmental monitoring.
“This monitoring includes the testing of groundwater by a certified laboratory in the vicinity of the operations before and after an activity.
“Proponents are required to undertake baseline monitoring before starting any activity that is a potential risk to groundwater or surface water.”
Lock the Gate Alliance coordinator Simone van Hattem said the group was holding a film night, to which election candidates had been invited, on Monday, February 27 at 7pm at West Swan Hall, West Swan Rd, Henley Brook.
By Anita McInnes