06/09/2019 - 15:05

Fracking ban lifted for existing titles

06/09/2019 - 15:05

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The state government has lifted a ban on fracking on existing petroleum titles, in a move planned since last year that protects all but 2 per cent of Western Australia from the contentious practice.

Fracking ban lifted for existing titles
Bill Johnston says fracking operations will be subject to a strict code of conduct. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The state government has lifted a ban on fracking on existing petroleum titles, in a move planned since last year that protects all but 2 per cent of Western Australia from the contentious practice.

A moratorium had been in place on hydraulic fracturing in WA since midway through 2017, to allow for independent analysis of the environmental impacts of the practice to be completed by the Environmental Protection Authority.

The EPA’s report was released last year, with the findings showing the exploration practice posed little risk to the environment, largely because shale gas formations in WA are much further underground than gas sourced from coal seams.

Fracking involves injecting fluids, sand and chemicals into coal seam or shale formations, with opponents raising concerns that the technique could contaminate water sources and cause earthquakes.

Risks assessed by the EPA included impacts on air and water quality, health risks from the chemicals used and the impact on surrounding areas from fracking operations as well as vehicular movements.

A ban on fracking in the South West, Peel and Perth metropolitan areas will remain in place, while Broome and the Dampier Peninsula will also be protected.

Fracking will also be prohibited within two kilometres of gazetted public drinking water source areas, in national parks and towns. 

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said companies seeking to undertake fracking operations would need to apply through the EPA.

“A new code of practice will also be developed, prescribing minimum enforceable standards for hydraulic fracturing activities,” he said.

“Proponents considering hydraulic fracturing are encouraged to engage with the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to ensure they understand the new requirements.”

Fracking will only be allowed on petroleum titles that existed before November 26 2018.

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