FRACKING will not be permitted over 98% of Western Australia and, for the first time, traditional owners and farmers will have the right to say no to oil and gas production from fracking on their land.
The WA Government has announced it will only lift the fracking moratorium on existing onshore petroleum titles following an independent scientific inquiry finding the risk to people and the environment is low.
Under new strict controls as part of the WA Government’s response to the scientific inquiry, fracking can only be approved on land covered by existing exploration and production licences, or about two per cent of the State.
The Government says fracking will continue to be banned in Perth, Peel and the South-West. Existing and proposed national parks, the iconic Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley and Public Drinking Water Source Areas will also be declared off limits.
The specific boundaries covering the Dampier Peninsula ban will be developed in consultation with the local community.
WA Premier Mark McGowan says royalties from any unconventional onshore oil and gas projects will be used to support new renewable energy projects via a special Clean Energy Future Fund with a $9 million seed allocation.
The royalty rate for unconventional oil and gas will increase to 10%, the same rate that applies to conventional petroleum production.
According to the WA Government, a 12-month independent inquiry by Environmental Protection Authority chairperson Dr Tom Hatton made 44 recommendations. Major changes to the existing regulatory regime include:
- No fracking to be allowed within two kilometres of gazetted Public Drinking Water Source Areas;
- All fracking projects, including exploration and production wells, to require EPA assessment;
- The development of an enforceable Code of Practice to ensure high standards of health, safety and environmental protection; and
- No fracking allowed within two kilometres of towns, settlements or residents.
Premier McGowan said the State Government will implement all of the inquiry’s recommendations before any fracking production approvals are granted.
“We’ve delivered our election promise to ban fracking in Perth, Peel and the South-West, and now we’re introducing new world-class strict controls to regulate the industry in other parts of the State, following the findings of an independent scientific inquiry,” Premier McGowan said
“Banning fracking on existing petroleum titles after the scientific inquiry found the risk from fracking is low, would undermine Western Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest and do business.
“At the same time, it is crucial that the industry demonstrates that it has the support of landowners who, for the first time, will be able to say yes or no to any fracking production on their land.
“This is a balanced and responsible policy that supports economic opportunity, new jobs, environmental protection and landowner rights.”
WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said he respected the outcome of the scientific inquiry, which showed that jobs and investment can be allowed with proper regulation and enforcement.
“Western Australia has a long history of safe and responsible oil and gas operations and is a world-class industry regulator,” Minister Johnston said.
“The report demonstrates that the risks associated with fracking are minimal and can be safely managed under this balanced policy.”