The draft final report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory has found that any risks associated with onshore gas development and fracking can be safely managed by effective regulation.
APPEA director South Australia/Northern Territory Matthew Doman said it was critical the 12-month inquiry be completed to bring certainty to investors, local businesses, Traditional Owners, landholders and all Territorians.
“Importantly, the draft report confirms that shale gas development would have significant economic and employment benefits for the NT,” Mr Doman said.
“The report, released today, has also debunked many of the myths spread by activists opposed to onshore gas development.
“Justice Pepper’s draft report echoes the conclusion reached by numerous other scientific inquiries and reviews that any risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be minimised or eliminated with proper regulation.”
Lock the Gate Alliance welcomed the report.
“The draft report is an comprehensive body of work that identifies a host of risks associated with fracking gasfields, including the potential to harm drinking water and public health and spread contaminants,” alliance national coordinator Naomi Hogan said.
“This report confirms what thousands of concerned Territorians have been saying; that fracking gasfields come with a myriad of risks that would put an incredible burden on the Territory,” said .
“Even with 120 recommendations to attempt to avoid the worst of the fracking pollution risks, the panel finds that there is significant potential for accidental releases, leaks and spills of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and fluids, flowback and produced water.
“We could be buried under the weight of all the risks and potential negative impacts coming from the fracking industry.
Lock the Gate welcomes attempts by the Fracking Inquiry Panel to address these risks through proposed regulations.
“Recommendations for mining reform will not be enough to protect Territory land, water and livelihoods from fracking gasfield impacts.
“Communities and landholders will now redouble efforts to ensure our parliamentary leaders understand and act on the risks identified through this report,” Ms Hogan said.
The draft Final Report comprises three separate documents: the draft Final Report (Book 1); the appendices to the Report (Book 2); and an Executive Summary (Book 3, over 50 pages).
The Inquiry Chair, Justice Rachel Pepper, said that the draft Final Report is the Inquiry’s most significant publication to date.
“The work of the Inquiry is to identify and assess the environmental, social, cultural and economic risks associated with hydraulic fracturing for any onshore shale gas in the Northern Territory, and to make recommendations to mitigate those risks, where possible. The Report details the work and the findings of the Inquiry to date. It makes 120 recommendations,” Justice Pepper said.
“The recommendations have been developed to mitigate risks identified during the course of the Inquiry relating to water, land, air, public health, Aboriginal people and their culture, and the unique social and economic conditions of the Territory.
“It is not the role of the Inquiry to make a recommendation whether or not the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory should be lifted, that is a matter for Government.
“What this Report does is provide recommendations to mitigate to acceptable levels the identified risks associated with any onshore shale gas development in the NT if the moratorium is lifted. These risks have been analysed having regard to the current available scientific evidence, which includes the evidence received during the consultation process. Where insufficient data exists to analyse those risks or to recommend appropriate mitigation measures, the Panel has had no hesitation in stating this and in recommending that this information be obtained.
“The overall conclusion of the Report is that risk is inherent in all development and that an onshore shale gas industry is no exception. However, if the recommendations made in this draft Report are adopted and implemented in full, those risks may be mitigated or reduced - and in many cases eliminated altogether - to acceptable levels having regard to the totality of the evidence.
“Since the Inquiry commenced, over 500 submissions have been received and considered by the Panel, 105 public hearings have been conducted, and the Inquiry has held 29 community forums across the Territory.
“The panel now wants to hear from the community, Government, industry, environmental groups, and other relevant stakeholders about the content of the draft Final Report. This will be the last opportunity Territorians have to express their views to Inquiry.”
Registrations opened today for the final round of public hearings which will take place between February 5-12, 2018.
The Katherine hearing will be held on February 7 at the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.