ABOUT

Western Australians love our natural environment. We marvel at the beauty of tiny wildflowers and vast landscapes. Our forests, rivers, beaches and woodlands; our clean water and fresh air; and our unique wildlife together form the natural heritage that supports our communities and maintains our health and wellbeing.

For over 45 years, the Conservation Council has been Western Australia’s outspoken and independent voice for the environment and communities.

As Western Australia’s peak environmental group we represent tens of thousands of individual supporters and over 100 Member Groups with diverse interests across the state.

We inspire people to work together, to value and protect nature and to build sustainable communities that can support future generations as well as our own.

We work directly with community groups, government, media, industry, and political parties.

Through advocacy, research, policy development, partnerships and community engagement, we help create a sustainable future that all Western Australians can look forward to.

From the rugged far north of the Kimberley, to the green forested South West and our amazing coastline and unique marine life, CCWA speaks for the protection and conservation of all nature in Western Australia.

From the protection of natural areas and wildlife to building sustainable communities; our work leaves an enduring legacy for future generations. 

NEWS

Fracking Myths Busted at Public Forum

Residents in the South West will have the chance to hear the facts about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other forms of unconventional gas at a community forum in Margaret River. 

The forum is being hosted by Transition Margaret River and Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSPI), and will take place on June 2. 

Piers Verstegen, Director of Conservation Council of WA and member of the CUSPI Advisory Board will be speaking at the event, and said there were a number of myths that he would address in his presentation.

“One of the most common myths that we hear from the gas industry is that fracking can co-exist safely with other industries such as farming and tourism,” he said.

“The South West region is renowned for its food and wine, tourism, clean air and natural environment. If gas fracking were to occur in the region it would pollute and industrialise large areas and destroy many of the values that make the Southwest such a special place.   

“In a typical fracking gasfield, hundreds or even thousands of wells are required – each drilled through groundwater aquifers to access deep gas-bearing rocks. Each frack well can use, and pollute 20 million litres of water.

“With each well that is drilled and fracked, there is a very real threat of contamination entering the groundwater that our farms and communities rely on. Once the groundwater is polluted, the damage is done and it’s farmers and communities who will pay the price for that.

“We are also very concerned that farmers have no rights of veto to prevent unwanted gas exploration or fracking on their land. A Parliamentary Inquiry recently recommended stronger rights for farmers but the State Government has rejected these calls.

Mr Verstegen said while there were no immediate plans to undertake fracking around Margaret River, the area is being explored with renewed interest as new gas extraction methods, such as fracking, have become available.

“South West communities should be sceptical of claims that fracking will not happen in the region,” he said. 

“We have seen similar claims being made by gas companies elsewhere as they try to get a foot in the door and establish themselves in communities.

“The State Government and fracking companies have refused to rule out fracking in the South West and this alone should be reason for concern.

“Exploration licenses have already been issued over many groundwater aquifers, including the Yarragadee south aquifer, which supplies water to the South West. These leases cover significant areas around Bunbury and Margaret River.

“Another myth that will be addressed is that our regulations are adequate to protect the environment and groundwater.

“One of our biggest concerns is that gas fracking in WA is exempt from the normal regulations that apply to other polluting industries, and no Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken before the exploration leases have been issued.

The forum will be held at 5pm June 2 at the Curtin University Margaret River campus.

Media contact: Rebecca Boteler – 0424 569 179

WA State Budget 2016-17

Budget1617.JPGWhat does the 2016/17 WA budget mean for our environment?

Budgets are very revealing documents as they show exactly where government expenditure is being allocated. Decisions to spend or cut funding flow from the Government's policy priorities and provide an insight into the decisions that are being made across all portfolios.

 

What has been funded?

The following examples show areas of funding in the State Budget which will have a positive or negative impact on the environment

 

New Kimberley Parks receive funding for management

The new terrestrial and marine protected areas that the State Government is delivering in the Kimberley have received budget allocations for establishment and management under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy. These funds will be used to support Joint Management of the parks with Traditional Owners in the Kimberley, including WA's first jointly managed Marine Parks. The Management Plans for the new Kimberley Marine Parks have not yet been finalised and conservation groups are urging stronger protection, increased sanctuary zones and the banning of gillnet fishing in the parks, but it is a positive sign that funding commitments have been made for the management of these large new protected areas.

 

Funding for WA Biodiversity Science Institute

$6.7m over five years has been provided for the new WA Biodiversity Science Institute. This is a joint initiative between several universities and government agencies aimed at improving the planning and coordination of biodiversity science and research in Western Australia. CCWA worked with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy to develop the proposal for this initiative several years ago and it is pleasing to see it come to fruition, however it will be important that the research agenda for the Institute does not become dominated by industry. With no community representation on the Board of the new Institute there is a real risk that this may occur.

 

Royalties for Regions to subsidise mining and fracking on farmland

$10M per year will be made available to subsidise mining and petroleum industries (including gas fracking and uranium mining) to expand. This funding will be provided from the WA Nationals Royalties for Regions Program. While Some National’s MP’s call for veto rights for farmers who do not want fracking in their land, $30 million from Royalties for Regions - the National’s signature funding program - will be made available to subsidise the very industries that farmers wish to veto.

 

Unnecessary Freight Link to receive nearly $1.8bn image003.jpg

Funding of over $450m is provided in the budget over three years for construction of the Roe8 highway extension through the Beeliar Wetlands as the first stage of the overall Perth Freight Link project. According to the budget the estimated total cost of this project to WA taxpayers will be nearly $1.8 billion. This is a massive waste of taxpayers funds on an extremely controversial and environmentally destructive project. The approval has been overturned in the WA Supreme Court, A Senate Inquiry has advised against the project and a strong coalition of local community, councils and environment groups remain strongly opposed to this development.

 

 

What has not been funded?

The following examples identify areas of funding that have either been reduced or not provided at all, which we consider important for the environment.

 

New Biodiversity laws not matched by funding commitment 

While the State Numbat.jpgGovernment says the new Biodiversity Conservation Bill will introduce a new regime of better protection for the environment, no funds have been allocated in the budget to support increased protection of wildlife once the new laws come into effect. Conservation groups have identified a number of serious flaws with the Governments proposed Biodiversity Conservation Bill and the lack of funding for its implementation is another serious concern to add to that list. To be effective, any new biodiversity protection laws will require a major increase in resources committed to biodiversity science, planning and protection, however no new funding commitments have been made in the State budget.

 

Climate change funding absent from budget

There is no dedicated funding identified in the State Budget for climate change adaptation or mitigation. This is alarming given that WA (including our economy, communities, environment and agricultural sector) is highly vulnerable to the impacts of a drying and changing climate. Under the Barnett Government, carbon pollution from fossil fuel industries such as LNG processing have been allowed to increase unchecked and the budget papers confirm there is no commitment from the Government to deal with, or even acknowledge the impacts of a rapidly changing climate.

 

Collie_coal.JPGNo funding for Collie coal transition

State Treasurer and Energy Minister Mike Nahan has acknowledged the need to shut down excess electricity generating capacity in WA, starting with coal fired power stations. Thousands of households are installing to solar panels to reduce their energy bills and this is in turn reducing our reliance on old, polluting coal fired power stations. A just and orderly transition of the electricity grid does however require funding assistance, most urgently in the form of a transition plan for the town of Collie. Unfortunately this is not funded in the State Budget despite the establishment of a Collie Transition Taskforce to advise government on important initiatives to support the transition.

 

Environmental policy functions take a cut

The important environmental policy functions in the Department of Environmental Regulation will suffer a 30% reduction in funding (from $10M to $7M) in this budget. These policy functions are critical to the task of keeping our air and water clean, maintaining our health, and preventing pollution of our natural environment. With new polluting industries such as gas fracking being promoted across that state, our environmental regulators should have increased funding to do their job, not less.

Gas Industry Downturn Proves Government Needs To Look Elsewhere To Boost Economy

MEDIA RELEASE – 23RD MARCH

 Gas Industry Downturn Proves Government Needs To Look Elsewhere To Boost Economy 

The Conservation Council of WA has warned that the State Government needs to look elsewhere to boost the economy, with signs the WA gas industry is struggling financially and failing to gain the support of communities.

Woodside Petroleum has announced its Browse Liquefied Natural Gas has been put project on hold due to falling oil and gas prices while WA-based Fracking Company Buru Energy has reported a major decline in shareholder value.

“These announcements confirm that the State Government is barking up the wrong tree if it was hoping that the gas industry would save the state budget and boost the economy,” said CCWA Director Piers Verstegen.

“WA’s LNG industry is clearly struggling, while plans for onshore gas fracking are failing to gain the support of communities across the state.

 “The Paris agreement on climate change requires fossil fuels to be phased out, so relying on growth in this sector will leave our economy exposed and our environment and communities worse-off.

“It would be far more prudent for the government to throw its support behind the renewable energy industry.

“This is an area where WA can have a real competitive advantage and which also enjoys the strong support of Western Australians.

Woodside’s announcement follows the release this week of Buru Energy’s annual report, which revealed its operating loss after tax has increased from $31.6m to 40.4m.

The company had been due to begin gas fracking at Yulleroo, 70 km from Broome, but has delayed the project by two years.

“There is significant and growing opposition to fracking across the state including in the Kimberley. 

“97% of Yarwu people, who are the traditional owners of the area Buru is targeting for fracking, have voted to oppose fracking on their land.

“This community opposition is a major factor in the delay of Buru’s fracking projects and the overall poor performance of Buru and other fracking companies. 

“These delays are costing the company time and money, and will make Buru’s fracking plans even more financially risky.

“Shareholders equity in Buru Energy has declined by $40m over the past year. 

Investors would be well advised to look elsewhere for returns, just as the government should look elsewhere for revenue and employment growth.” said Mr Verstegen.

 

Comment: Rebecca Boteler – 0424 569 179

Biodiversity Bill must not allow extinction: conservation groups

MEDIA RELEASE – 21 March 2016 

Biodiversity Bill must not allow extinction: conservation groups

 

Conservation groups have welcomed Premier Barnett’s statement that the government would accept amendments to new biodiversity legislation tabled for debate in the State Parliament this week. Without significant changes including specific provisions to prevent wildlife extinction, conservation groups say the Bill should be withdrawn.

 

The Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2015 was initially welcomed by conservation groups after being introduced into the Parliament without consultation; however independent analysis by the WA Environmental Defenders Office has since shown that the bill falls well short of contemporary practice for environmental law.

 

 CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said “WA’s unique native wildlife is under huge pressure from climate change, land clearing, logging, mining, gas fracking, feral animals and other impacts.

 

“Now is not the time for the Government to be putting forward half measures that will fail to address the decline of our unique biodiversity, or creating extraordinary new powers to allow Ministers to approve extinction.

 

“There is no provision for an independent Biodiversity Authority, no requirement for scientific advice, no targets for wildlife recovery, and no requirement for the Minster to use any of the powers in the legislation or to publicly report on the condition of wildlife.  Instead the Bill creates new powers for a Minster to play God by allowing the extinction of an entire species.

 

Like the 1950’s legislation it seeks to replace, the Bill is full of loopholes and exemptions for certain activities and classes of animals.

 

Wilderness Society Coordinator Peter Robertson said, “This Bill was drafted without consultation and contains many fundamental flaws and omissions.

 

“In its current form it is not “fit for purpose” as 21st century biodiversity conservation legislation. The lack of any statutory public involvement, including third party enforcement rights, shows this legislation is outdated before it is even law.

 

“In our view the legislation is so deeply flawed that it should not be passed unless there are major amendments.”

 

“Arresting the decline of our native wildlife demands a comprehensive package of reforms including funding, increased protected areas, major changes to the management of forest and other public lands, and contemporary legislation,” concluded Mr. Verstegen

 

The Conservation groups have written to all Members of Parliament outlining major amendments that are required for the Bill to be effective, and asking Parliament to refer the Bill to a Committee where amendments can be considered in detail.

 

Comment:

Piers Verstegen, Director CCWA – 0411 557 892

Peter Robertson, Acting Coordinator, The Wilderness Society WA – 0409 089 020

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