TUESDAY, Feb 6: Communities on the North West Cape are celebrating following the withdrawal of two major onshore oil and gas leases in the region.
Coordinator of Frack Free Ningaloo, Grace Keast, said the people of Exmouth and Coral Bay were greatly relieved that they would no longer be directly threatened by fracking in their region, at least in the short term.
“In July 2017 Exmouth declared itself a Gasfield Free Community after an extensive survey of residents that resulted in 98.3 per cent saying yes to going gasfield free, closely followed in September 2017 by Coral Bay with 99.4% also saying yes to going gasfield free” Ms Keast said.
“We effectively removed any social licence that fracking companies had to operate in our region by declaring ourselves Gasfield Free.
“There are many threats to the environment and water in our region and the end of these fracking leases means one less issue that communities have to battle.
“Our groundwater is crucial and the community was really concerned at the threat that fracking posed to drinking water supplies.
“However we remain cautious as the Government could re-issue these fracking leases to other companies at any time.”
The latest map released by the State Department of Mines, Industry and Regulation shows just one production lease remaining on the Cape, which is in care and maintenance until 2031.
Two other leases covering nearly 800sqkm between Ningaloo and Learmonth, known as EP 359 and EP 435, have expired, were not renewed and have now been taken off the petroleum titles map.
In late November, the State Government gave the greenlight to fracking across much of the state that was already covered by fracking leases.
The decision followed an inquiry by a scientific panel that chose not to look at fracking issues in the Southern Carnarvon Basin arguing that despite more than 100 wells being drilled onshore in the basin there was little evidence of gas.