A TERRITORY Labor plan to implement a moratorium on fracking if elected to government in August has been slammed as a lost opportunity by landholders desperate for an upgrade to road infrastructure around Larrimah.
Opposition Leader Michael Gunner made the shock announcement on February 3 that a government led by him would stop hydraulic fracturing activity in the Northern Territory until its full impact could be determined.
While he admitted “no timeline has been announced” in regard to how long the moratorium would remain, his stance has split community sentiment, with anti-fracking supporters calling for a minimum period of five years.
“NT Labor and Mr Gunner have taken a very important first step, and they now have the opportunity to step up [and] listen to Territorians and the scientific community to put in place a five-year moratorium on fracking,” Lock the Gate Alliance NT’s Naomi Hogan said.
However, Territory Labor’s position has been heavily criticised by frustrated members of the Sturt Plateau Best Practice Group.
Spokesman Keith Holzwart said the group believed a moratorium would be akin to “destroying the only chance for a $100 million dollar upgrade and sealing of Western Creek Road”.
The upgrade would provide all-weather access and improved road safety for landholders but Mr Holzwart said it was unlikely to ever become a reality without the economic benefits fracking would bring with it.
“The likelihood of government funding ever being available to seal this road is virtually zero,” he said.
“We have supported shale gas exploration because we understood the development had bipartisan support.”