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Gasfield Free Swan Valley has organised an information night in Brigadoon.

Swan Valley fracking row continues

SWAN Valley residents can attend an information night about fracking and the unconventional gas industry at the State Equestrian Centre.

Marg Whan from Gasfield Free Swan Valley, which is hosting the event, said she hoped Brigadoon and Baskerville residents would attend to hear the latest news and help protect the area permanently.

“We have organised this information night because we are concerned that our water, land and health is still at risk from the unconventional gas industry,” she said.

“We are concerned to hear the ‘fracking ban’ only covers a narrow process, and the promised inquiry is not looking at the broader industry and its socio-economic impacts.’’

Earlier this week Lock the Gate released a statement saying it welcomed the McGowan Government’s panel for the fracking inquiry.

But Lock the Gate spokeswoman Jane Hammond said the terms of reference for the inquiry still needed to be broadened to ensure all impacts of the industry were examined.

Announcing the inquiry Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the government recognised the need to understand the risks associated with extracting petroleum products using fracking and to protect the state’s environment from those risks.

“The level of community concern about fracking needs to be met with a high level of independent scientific rigour, which is why four experienced and respected experts have been appointed,’’ he said.

But Ms Hammond said it was vital the terms of reference looked at the socio-economic impacts of fracking as well as the impact on water, health, land, livelihood, communities, air quality, climate and existing industries.

Mr Dawson said the independent scientific panel inquiry into hydraulic fracture stimulation panellists’ expertise ranged from geophysics and geology to environmental chemistry and monitoring and the socio-economic impacts of agricultural change.

The panellists are hydrogeologist Dr Philip Commander, regional development, agriculture and environment expert Professor Fiona Haslam McKenzie, human health and toxicology expert Dr Jackie Wright and Dr Michael Clennell, a research leader in petrophysics, geomechanics and structural geology.

Mr Dawson said the inquiry, to be chaired by Dr Tom Hatton, an esteemed long-term science leader, would hold public meetings in Perth and the Mid-West and Kimberley regions, with opportunities for public submissions.

He said last month the government implemented its ban on fracking for existing and future petroleum titles in the Perth metropolitan, South-West and Peel regions.

“A moratorium was also placed on the use of fracking throughout the rest of Western Australia,’’ he said.

In an opinion piece published last month Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association WA chief operating officer Stedman Ellis said the government should cancel the inquiry into hydraulic fracturing.

“We already know what it will find,” he said.

“Fracking for natural gas is safe – any risks can be managed with good regulation and industry best practice.”

He said fracking had been safely carried out in WA for decades.

“More than 600 wells have been fracked in WA in the past 55 years with no evidence of environmental harm.’’

The meeting is at the State Equestrian Centre, 303 Cathedral Ave, Brigadoon on Wednesday, October 18. Doors open at 6.45pm.

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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