GAZETTAL of the McGowan Government’s Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Hydraulic Fracturing) Regulations 2017 will provide a permanent ban on fracking in the South West, Perth, including the Swan Valley, and Peel regions and a statewide moratorium until 2020.
Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) director Piers Verstegen said environment groups including Frack Free Future and landholders would be relieved to hear the news and to know the quality of their water, health and environment would not be threatened by toxic and unwanted fracking operations.
“While this regulation applies to fracking only, it is a step towards protecting parts of our state from all unwanted and polluting forms of petroleum development,’’ he said.
“We especially welcome Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston’s comment ‘The McGowan Government recognises the need to protect the state’s environment from risks associated with fracking’.
“A background paper released by the Independent Fracking Inquiry has already acknowledged that fracking has serious and significant risks, including groundwater contamination, air pollution, damage to wildlife and biodiversity, and impacts on farming and other industries.
“It is already clear that fracking any part of the state would threaten our water, wildlife, and environment, which is why the industry has no social license to operate in WA.
“A temporary ban (moratorium) until June 2020 will apply in parts of the state not covered by the permanent fracking ban.
“This buys time for our environment and communities who will continue to advocate for a permanent statewide ban on fracking.
Lock the Gate spokeswoman Jane Hammond said across WA there had been a lot of interest in the fracking inquiry.
Ms Hammond said in the past week more than 500 submissions had been received by the inquiry calling for a permanent statewide ban on fracking.
But she said with only five single days of sittings spread across WA it was unlikely everyone who wanted to address the inquiry would get the chance.
“We are aware that the inquiry has been given a very limited budget and we hope that this will not hamper its ability to investigate fully this matter of great public importance,’’ she said.
Mr Johnston said the delegated legislation supported the state-wide fracking moratorium while the government’s scientific inquiry was underway.
He said the inquiry, expected to be completed within 12 months, would address community concerns around fracking.
Led by the Environmental Protection Authority chairman, Dr Tom Hatton, the inquiry will hold a public meeting in Perth on Wednesday February 28 with opportunities for public submissions.
Community members can express their views to the inquiry online, submissions are open until March 19, 2018.
For more information, visit http://www.frackinginquiry.wa.gov.au
By Anita McInnes