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Fracking Working Group must deliver veto rights to landholders

The state’s peak environment group and the Frack Free Future campaign have renewed their call for strong rights of veto for landholders facing gas fracking on their land, following the announcement of a Land Access Working Group by Minister L’Estrange at the Petroleum Open Day conference in Perth.

Frack Free Future spokesperson Jules Kirby said “This announcement is a response to the deep and legitimate concerns in the community over gas fracking proposals, and the overwhelming evidence that gas fracking damages the environment, groundwater and farmland. 

“There is a huge and growing groundswell of community support for a moratorium on fracking. Landholders across the state including farmers, businesses, tourism operators and Aboriginal leaders are all expressing concerns about fracking, and in particularly the lack of veto rights to prevent fracking on their land.

“The Land Access Working Group shows that the Government is investing a lot of effort in attempts to get a gas fracking industry established in WA.

“Unless the Working Group process delivers strong veto rights for farmers it will have failed to  address the problem and will simply add to the concern in the community.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said “The lack of any legal powers to prevent fracking on farmland, pastoral leases or Aboriginal lands is a huge concern for the community.

“Right now, all the power rest with the fracking industry and none with the community and landholders.

“We are a little surprised to find out by press release that the Conservation Council has been appointed to a Land Access Working group. There are some parallels here with landholders who are not consulted about fracking leases over their property.

“It is also disappointing to see that no Aboriginal representatives have been appointed to the working group, as very large areas of Aboriginal land in the Kimberley and other parts of the state are at risk from fracking.

“We will examine the Terms of Reference for the working group and consult with communities, landholders and environment groups to determine if we will participate in the process. 

“Ultimately if this process does not offer a rapid pathway to establishing strong veto rights for landholders then it will fail to address the issue and will not be seen as a credible process by the community.”

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