A shire in WA’s Mid West has suspended planned hydraulic fracturing in the Perth Basin, making it the second community in the region to oppose the practice in the same week.
Councillors from the Shire of Coorow unanimously voted against AWE’s plans to frack at the Drover-1 well – east of Mount Lesueur National Park and above groundwater resources – until the completion of a public hearing.
Earlier the same week, residents of Central Greenough, south of Geraldton, signed a Gasfield-Free declaration to deter companies from developing in the area – the first community in WA to do so.
The declaration has gained traction across eastern states communities in response to fears of environmental impacts. The Coorow council has called for a full environmental assessment as well as health and agricultural assessments before making a decision on AWE’s fracking proposal.
“In light of recent comments and media reports, council is requested to demonstrate its support for the request made to the ministers for health and water in ensuring that the health of local communities is not compromised as a result of the activities of AWE within the Mount Peron bore field,” the council agenda stated.
Public meetings in Green Head and Leeman raised public awareness of the project and questioned regulatory authorities over the area’s oil and gas activities.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association hit back at the community action, calling for the WA Government to continue with a “pragmatic approach” to WA’sonshore gas development. “Western Australia’s very strong investment reputation has been forged for being open for businesses, not by slamming the door on resources development, which is what a moratorium would effectively do,” APPEA said in a statement.
“(The WA Government) has also taken into account the advice of the EPA [Environmental Protection Authority], which has determined that the level of hydraulic fracturing currently planned across the state is low-risk and can be adequately regulated by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.
“Hydraulic fracturing has been used on more than 700 wells in Western Australia since the 1960s without incident.” APPEA also described Central Greenough’s declaration as a ‘publicity stunt’, after the community was visited by representatives of green group Lock the Gate Alliance, ABC News reported.
In a statement, Sydney-based AWE said WA’s EPA had determined that the Drover-1 drilling program would not significantly impact the environment. “AWE acknowledges there is a genuine concern in some sections of the community about the potential impact of drilling operations on the Green Head water supply,” AWE stated.
“However, we can assure the community that AWE’s drilling program was thoroughly assessed and subsequently approved by a number of regulatory bodies before we were allowed to proceed with our exploration program.”