Activists welcome Govt fracking ban

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

Campaigners protesting gasfields have welcomed last week’s announcement of a legislative ban on fracking, but are urging the State Government to take it one step further by ruling out all gas extraction in the South West.

The legislation follows activists’ repeated calls for the ban — promised by Labor and initially implemented without legislation — to be bound by law and comes amid a scientific panel inquiry into the effects of hydraulic fracture simulation on the environment.

The inquiry, led by Environmental Protection Authority chairman Tom Hatton, is expected to be completed within 12 months, with recommendations from the inquiry helping form future policy.

Gasfield-Free Whicher Range spokeswoman Lisa Chatwin said she was delighted to see the Government take firm steps to protect water in the South West but still had concerns.

“Conventional gas production will still risk our water,” she said.

“The State’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture, therefore any onshore conventional or unconventional gasfields would risk the South West economy.”

Cowaramup dairy farmer Trina Duggan, whose husband and family have been farming in the region for more than 90 years, said conventional gas production could influence agricultural exports.

“Gasfields in our South West food bowl and agricultural area, whether it be a conventional or unconventional gas project, have the potential to poison our food chain,” she said.

“The excuse of job creation is a fallacy when compared to the loss of jobs that would occur in the agricultural and tourism area.”

While Margaret River resident and director of the film Frackman Richard Todd said the Government should be commended for its commitment to the fracking ban, he said the independence of the deciding scientific committee would be the “proof in the pudding”.

“There is far too much evidence coming out of the shale and tight gas extraction regions of the US with regards to how communities have been negatively affected by this industry,” he said.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the community's views and the outcome of the inquiry would be considered in forming decisions.

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