A controversial fossil fuel proposal in Western Australia has attracted a record number of appeals from the general public in what is being called ‘a referendum’ on the future of fossil fuels in the state.
The controversial expansion of the North West Shelf facility – which is operated by Woodside – would see the aging site given license to continue processing gas from offshore fields until 2070.
Estimates from statistics provided by WA’s Environmental Protection Authority suggest that the extension would produce 4.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, which equates to 12.1 million car journeys around the world, every year, for the next 50 years.
Gas – which is a fossil fuel – has been found to be one of the primary drivers behind WA’s ongoing emissions crisis, which has seen emissions levels rise by 20 per cent over 2005 levels, in contrast to reductions in other states.
The main component of gas, methane, is more than 25 times more potent than CO2 in trapping heat in the atmosphere and is a direct contributor to ongoing climate change which increases the frequency of floods, bushfires and droughts in Western Australia.
According to the WA Appeals Convenor, 759 individual appeals had been lodged against the proposal, as of Friday morning, with more appeals still to count. The previous record number was 170 for the Bunbury outer ring road proposal in 2021. Each appeal carries a $10 fee, payable by the appellant.
Woodside continues to court controversy among the scientific community and conservationists as it targets expansion of its fossil fuel operations while bodies like the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have advocated for no new oil, gas or coal developments.
Maggie Wood, the Executive Director of the Conservation Council of WA, which is leading the campaign against new fossil fuel developments in WA, said the record number of appeals represented ‘a referendum on the future of fossil fuels in our state’.
“West Australians – in record numbers – have overwhelmingly said enough is enough”, she said.
“The record number of appeals that have been filed over the past two weeks shows that for all its glossy advertising about being ‘part of a better future’ Woodside has not fooled the West Australian public. The EPA should have rejected this proposal outright, but now it is up to the WA Environment Minister to do the right thing.”
Ms Wood also sought to address comments made by Woodside and WA Premier Mark McGowan – who supports further gas developments in the state – that projects like the North West Shelf were necessary to provide cheap energy and support the economy.
“This isn’t about keeping the lights on – Woodside uses more gas to produce fossil fuels than it sends to homes and businesses in Western Australia. It isn’t even about jobs, as Woodside continues to carry out round after round of redundancies. This is purely about money and squeezing every last drop out of the international gas export market before time finally runs out for this highly polluting business model.
“It is a reckless and morally bankrupt ploy which puts private enterprise and profit ahead of the interests of ordinary people who depend on a stable and liveable climate.”
The North West Shelf site sits on the Burrup Peninsula, traditionally known as Murujuga by the Indigenous communities which have inhabited the area for tens of thousands of years.
Murujuga is also home to at least one million world heritage shortlisted ancient rock carvings – known as petroglyphs – which have been found to be directly threatened by emissions from heavy industry, including the production of gas. These petroglyphs are among some of the oldest depictions of human figures and include images of long extinct animals and the first encounters of Aboriginal people with western settlers.
The proposal will now go before the WA Environment Minister, Reece Whitby, for a final decision.
MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing more than 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia.
For more information, visit: ccwa.org.au.
CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please contact Robert Davies
08 9420 7291 / 0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected]