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Onshore petroleum risk to South West agriculture and tourism region

Community calls on Government rule out fracking in food and tourism region

WA’s peak environment group has called on the State Government to rule out gas fracking in the South West following the announcement that a company has been selected for a petroleum exploration permit over large parts of the wine, food and tourism region.


Despite strong community opposition, the Department of Mines and Petroleum has granted exploration rights to Unconventional Resources Pty. Ltd. covering an area of 650 square kilometers incorporating the shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup, parts of the City of Bunbury and slightly overlapping an area in the City of Busselton. 

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said “This is clearly part of a trend of where new areas are being opened up, and exploration for unconventional gas is being promoted across huge areas of the state with little regard for risks to groundwater, communities or the environment. 

“Gas fracking is the most common method for extracting unconventional gas globally so the South West community is right to be very concerned about this development.

“We expect to see very strong community opposition to any form of petroleum activity in the South West, particularly if gas fracking is involved.

 “The South West region is promoted by the WA Government around the world as a ‘clean and green’ food and tourist region - oil and gas exploration is totally incompatible with these activities.

 “Gas fracking is one of the most polluting and environmentally destructive processes imaginable and we call on the State Government to categorically rule out fracking in the South West.

“If fracking does go ahead it would be a disaster for the region and our groundwater.  We could see hundreds or thousands of wells drilled through farms and groundwater aquifers across the landscape.

 “While other countries are banning fracking and exploration licenses are being cancelled in other parts of Australia to protect groundwater and communities, in WA the government is moving ‘full steam ahead’ to promote the industry.

“Exploration permits in the Hunter Valley wine region in New South Wales were cancelled recently[i], and Tasmania has put in place a 5 year moratorium on shale gas fracking to protect its ‘clean, green’ reputation.

“When the South West permit was flagged last year, local residents, business owners and politicians made it clear that gas fracking is not appropriate for their region.

 “However under current WA legislation, farmers and landholders do not have a right to veto oil and gas activity on their land if they don’t want it.

“As the state’s peak environment group, CCWA places a high priority on the protection of land, water and local residents from gas fracking. We will certainly be working in partnership with the community to achieve that in the South West following this news.” 


Comment: Piers Verstegen – 0411 557 892

Take online action: Farms Not Fracking in South West WA



Fact file:

About Fracking

  • Commercial-scale gas fracking is used for unconventional sources of gas trapped in deep rocks like tight sandstone, shale and coal seams. It involves drilling hundreds or thousands of wells across the landscape and injecting water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the ground to crack the rock and release gas.
  • Gas fracking uses many chemicals in large quantities as part of the process and gas fracking activities have been associated with groundwater and surface water contamination in the USA (shale gas) and in Queensland (coal seam gas).
  • Commercial gas fracking has been associated with a number of health conditions in the USA and in eastern states of Australia. Residents living near fracking gasfields have reported neurological symptoms, headaches, ear and nosebleeds and symptoms of chemical exposure.
  • Gas fracking exploration permits cover large areas of WA’s fragile coastal plains, from near Carnarvon down to Margaret River. A huge swathe of the pristine Kimberley region is covered in exploration permits.
  • 25% of WA’s water reserve areas are already covered by petroleum leases. Fracking could take place in over 35 drinking water supply areas, including almost every coastal water resource from Margaret River to Geraldton.
  • Since 2008, at least 7 exploration gas fracks have taken place in WA. There have been some issues:
  • Corybas well in the Mid West was found to be leaking in 2010
  • A waste water pond at Buru’s Yulleroo 3 operation overflowed into the surrounding environment in 2013. Locals also reported that Yulleroo 2 well was leaking gas in 2014.
  • Warro 3&4 wells in the Watheroo National Park in the Mid West were abandoned after hitting a high pressure artesian aquifer.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet done a full Environmental Impact Assessment on any fracking projects in WA.



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