The Roper Gulf Regional Council has expressed its strong disappointment and concern over the recent decision to allow an onshore gas industry to develop.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner made the announcement yesterday that his Government would lift the fracking moratorium, following an expert scientific panel investigation into the risks involved in fracking.
Roper Gulf Mayor Judy MacFarlane said the move is highly concerning for the majority of people who live in the area.
“I’m disappointed and saddened by the decision because many locals still have strong doubts about how fracking will impact the region, particularly our water and existing industries,” she said.
“I understand there are mixed views about fracking locally because the industry could deliver significant economic benefits to our communities, but at what cost will those benefits come?
“The Northern Territory Government has yet to convince us the industry can proceed safely, so I expect this decision will cause a great deal of anxiety across our region.”
Elected Roper Gulf Council members have previously voiced their opposition to fracking, and CEO Michael Berto said despite remaining firm on that position, Council would seek greater engagement with government and industries on unconventional gas development within the region.
“Many locals remain uncertain or unconvinced about how our natural and cultural resources will be protected from fracking, and that needs to be more thoroughly demonstrated to them,” he said.
“The Northern Territory has a poor track record when it comes to resource development, so understandably doubt remains about how well fracking will be managed even with the inquiry recommendations in place.
“At this point I think we need to accept fracking is going ahead, but I want assurances our Council and communities will be involved in the development of the fracking implementation plan over the coming months.
“I also want to see strong representation from our region on the Government’s proposed community and industry reference group, to ensure the interests and opinions of our constituents are properly represented.
Mr Berto said there is still scope to influence how the industry develops within the region.
“We need to take-up that opportunity”, he said.
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