The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) has reacted with dismay to the news that the Beetaloo gas basin in the Northern Territory will be opened to fracking, despite warnings from the scientific community about its dangers.
The Northern Territory Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, announced that her government would allow on-shore gas drilling at the Beetaloo Basin, five years after a moratorium on the practice ended.
The Chief Minister and her deputy, Nicole Manison, told the assembled press that the development of new gas projects would help the territory transition to renewable energy – a claim which has been met with widespread criticism by conservation and environment groups. The Environment Centre NT – the peak body for conservation in the Northern Territory – described the decision as ‘a betrayal’.
The announcement closely followed the release of an open letter, signed by approximately 100 scientific experts, calling on the Northern Territory Government to ban fracking over ‘disastrous climate risks’.
Asked about the implications of the letter, Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said: “I would ask those people who signed up in that advert to perhaps be a bit more practical and level-headed.
“I would ask them, would you prefer to see your baseload power being produced from a coal fired power station or a gas fired power station?”
Anna Chapman, Fossil Fuels Program Manager at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), called the Deputy Chief Minister’s comments ‘uninformed’ and drew parallels with similar rhetoric used to justify new fossil fuel projects in WA.
“To suggest that the only choice Australians have is between a coal-fired power station or a gas-fired power station is uninformed”, she said.
“We need a swift phase out of fossil fuels, replaced with renewable energy - backed by battery storage – for a reliable energy supply and cheaper power bills for all Australians.
“The idea that transitioning away from fossil fuels requires more fossil fuels is nonsense. Sadly, it seems politicians have adopted the narrative of the fossil fuel industry to roll out high emissions projects when renewable energy alternatives exist. We see this in Western Australia as we do in the Northern Territory.
“Fracking is highly controversial and with good reason. Here in WA, groups like Lock The Gate and Environs Kimberley have engaged in a decades long fight to protect our state from the environmental impacts of fracking.
“It is sad to see governments across Australia continue to endanger our natural environment and climate by approving more fossil fuel projects and recycling lines from the fossil fuel lobby.”
MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 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 - 0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected]