The state government has acted on a key recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry into fracking delivered late last year, appointing a working group to review laws around land access.Appointment of the group has been a priority issue for the industry, with Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief operating officer WA, Stedman Ellis, recently telling Business News that the path the state government chose on fracking would be the most important regulatory issue the industry faced.Fracking has been used in wells in Western Australia for about 50 years, while more than a million wells have been fracked in the US.Both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the WA parliamentary inquiry found fracking could be used without environmental harm.But the timeframe selected by the government puts resolution of the issue beyond the next election, perpetuating uncertainty for the industry. WA Labor’s party platform opposes the drilling technique.Mines and Petroleum Minister Sean L'Estrange said the working group would consult with a wide range of stakeholders in order to report and make recommendations to the government by June 30 of next year."The land access working group will review existing provisions under the state's mining and petroleum legislation, with a primary focus on onshore petroleum," he said."The working group will compare land access arrangements in other jurisdictions and make recommendations to government, including possible changes to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association's farming land access agreement template."WA has a long history of mineral exploration and agriculture working together cooperatively and successfully.”Mr L'Estrange said the group would also consider the possibility of a statutory body to act as an independent arbiter for landowners and resources companies in land access negotiations.The exact membership of the group has not yet been confirmed, although it will include representatives from a variety of stakeholders including farmers, industry, the Conservation Council of Western Australia and state government agencies.
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