Conservation groups, local communities and farmers have reacted with anger and alarm at the issuing of a new oil and gas exploration permit covering tourist icons, towns and nature reserves on the Mid-west 'Turquoise Coast'.
The new exploration permit has been granted to shale gas fracking company Norwest Energy and covers the towns of Jurien Bay, Green Head, Cervantes and Lancelin as well as several nature reserves and national parks including the iconic Pinnacles Desert (Nambung National Park).
Conservation Council spokesperson Chantelle Roberts said: “It’s astonishing that an exploration permit for unconventional gas has been granted over communities and tourism icons with no community consultation and no environmental assessment. This area includes 4 towns, 4 Nature Reserves and 3 National Parks including the Pinnacles Desert tourism icon.”
“Generations of Western Australians have surfed, fished, camped and holidayed in these areas, so to see them turned into gasfields would be horrifying and will be strongly opposed.”
“National parks and nature reserves are intended to protect nature. The issuing of oil and gas exploration permits over these areas is totally unacceptable and totally incompatible with the intended purpose of these areas.”
“These fragile coastal areas need to be protected and treasured for their conservation and tourism values, not opened up for oil and gas exploration.”
“If the State Government did not intend for gas companies to be drilling and fracking in national parks and towns, they should not have granted this exploration permit over these areas.”
Speaking on behalf of the Clean Water Healthy Land Alliance, Piers Verstegen said “The community at Green Head are already fighting to protect their drinking water reserve from fracking plans by AWE Energy. Now they are faced with an exploration permit over the town itself.”
“We are supporting communities to defend their farms, groundwater, health and local environment against gas fracking proposals across the Mid West.
"Several communities have already declared their towns ‘gasfield free’, and a growing number of local Shires, farmers, and businesses are speaking out against gas fracking.
“The gas fracking industry does not have a social license to operate in Western Australia and The Council will continue to support and work with local communities to resist this unwanted and unnecessary industry.”
“We applaud the Premier’s call for more action on climate change – but opening up our iconic tourist locations and holiday towns to dirty fracking is not the answer – it could ruin the very things we want to protect.”