Fracking concerns Gingin resident

Kylie Greer of Gingin asks why fracking is okay for Gingin and Chittering if it is too risky for the Swan Valley.

GINGIN resident Kylie Greer joined a convoy of farmers with utes from across the Mid West last Saturday, to demand politicians protect their land and water from fracking gasfields ahead of the upcoming State Election.

Mrs Greer, a mother of two, said the Ute Muster was aimed at highlighting gas industry moves to continue exploration for unconventional shale and tight gas as well as supporting farmers from further north who were at “ground zero’’ of fracking in the state.

Farmers and residents from across the Mid West gathered in Bullsbrook before continuing through the Swan Valley into the city and ending at Cottesloe Beach.

Mrs Greer said there were two gas companies with permits to explore for gas in and around Gingin, Muchea, Chittering, Bullsbrook and the Swan Valley, with Empire Oil & Gas saying in 2016 they were exploring for unconventional gas.

In 2015 former Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion signed a Ministerial direction to Southern Sky Energy Pty Ltd as the registered holder of EP 494 (exploration permit), which prevent exploration activity in the Swan Valley.

She said the Ministerial direction could be changed by a future Mines and Petroleum Minister and did not even cover Brigadoon.

“If this industry is too risky for the Swan Valley, why is it ok for Gingin and Chittering?’’ she said.

“We are concerned because the unconventional gas industry poses a much more significant risk than the existing conventional gas industry to our water resources, including depletion and contamination, which along with air pollution from flaring and venting could have adverse impacts on the health of residents.

“Unconventional gas also usually requires thousands of wells across vast areas to extract gas, leading to substantial industrialisation of rural landscapes, compared to conventional gas which has a very limited footprint.

“As a result, unconventional gas is in invasive industry that represents a genuine threat to existing industries like agriculture and tourism” she said.

Department of Mines and Petroleum executive director petroleum Jeff Haworth said holders of a petroleum exploration permit or production licence were required to obtain consent from the landholder, verbal or otherwise, to access land, as listed in the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy and Resources Act 1967.

However, registered holders are required to obtain written consent in the following cases: – private land not exceeding 2000sqm in area, land used as a cemetery or burial place or land that is less than 150m laterally from any cemetery or burial place, any natural storage or accumulation of water, a spring, dam, bore, or artesian well, or any substantial improvement.

“The Minister for Mines and Petroleum may also limit access through conditions placed on the petroleum title that prohibit the registered

holder from entering specific areas within the title area, such as those with heritage and tourism value,’’ he said.

Mr Haworth said there was no case known to the department where a company had contaminated a water supply during unconventional gas exploration or extraction in any part of WA.

“The quality of the state’s water sources is protected through a collaborative approach across government.

“Agencies involved include the Departments of Water, Environment Regulation, Health, Mines and Petroleum and the Environment Protection Agency where appropriate.’’

Lock the Gate Alliance spokeswoman Simon van Hattem said film nights on fracking with election candidates attending would be held on Wednesday, March 1 at Pickett Park in Bullsbrook starting at 7pm, and Thursday, March 2 at Moora Performing Arts Centre starting at 6pm.