Protests roll on as govt builds fracking plan

Tom ZaunmayrThe West Australian
VideoThe State Government says a new scientific study shows unconventional gas can be recovered safely and without damaging humans or the environment.

Protesters have hit out at the State Government’s intention to process fracking exploration applications and approvals before an implementation plan is adopted.

An implementation group was formed to make recommendations to government on the application and approvals process for exploratory fracking following the State Government’s lifting of a moratorium on the practice in November.

The State Government confirmed on Wednesday exploration applications would be processed through the Environmental Protection Act until recommendations from the group were developed.

Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Robin Chapple said exploration still posed environmental problems.

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“The problem is even in the early stages of fracking these wells are 2.5-3km deep, they leak and overflow already” he said.

“We know from the US that the highest level of methane emissions are from test wells.

“To do this shows complete lack of understanding by the government.”

A State Government spokeswoman said the State Government was confident in the rigour of the EP act to assess fracking exploration applications.

VideoAbout 200 anti-fracking protesters held a tug-of-war between the community and fracking companies on the steps of Parliament House.

“The Independent Scientific Inquiry also looked at the issue of water and found the risk of contamination to be low,” she said.

“Nevertheless, as an added precaution aimed at reducing any risks even further, the inquiry recommended a separation of two kilometres between fracking wells and water bores used for drinking purposes.

“We have gone even further by prohibiting any fracking operations within two kilometres of gazetted Public Water Source Areas where drinking water bores are located.”

Irwin mango farmer Rod Copeland said approving exploration activity before the plan was adopted was a concern.

“With exploration there is always escaped gases, dust and noise,” he said.

“We are faced with tests on our fruit all the time, costly tests, and if we lose that quality of water and show residuals in fruit we lose it all.”

The implementation group is due to have a plan developed by March next year.

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