Northern Territory fracking ban lifted

The Northern Territory has ended its ban on fracking.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced the NT Government accepted all 135 recommendations of an independent fracking inquiry.

He explained implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the inquiry would now begin so that Territorians could benefit from the creation of new jobs while protecting the NT’s natural environment.

“We have accepted the key finding of the report – that if all the recommendations are implemented the risk from fracking can be reduced to an acceptable level,” Gunner said.

“We have also accepted the inquiry’s advice about no go zones and coupled with areas where there is no petroleum potential, 49 per cent of the Territory will be frack free, including in National Parks, Conservation Areas, Indigenous Protected Areas, towns, residential and strategic assets, and areas of high cultural, environmental or tourism value.

“In the remainder of the Territory, strict new laws and regulations will be put in place to ensure that when fracking takes place, we protect the environment, the cultures and lifestyles that rely on it, and the many tourism, pastoral and agricultural jobs that depend on it.”

The new laws and regulations include that all environmental management plans for fracking must be assessed by the EPA and signed off by the Environment Minister.

Strict new requirements must be met before exploration approval is granted, including codes of practice for well integrity and well decommissioning, development of wastewater management frameworks, the requirement for gas companies to obtain a water license.

Other strict new requirements must be met before production can take place, including the development of robust and transparent monitoring strategies, discussions with industry and pastoralists regarding land access requirements and compensation, and release of all environmental management plans for public comment.

An independent officer will be appointed to oversee the implementation of the 135 recommendations.

“We understand that many Territorians are concerned about increased greenhouse gas emissions from fracking and as recommended by the inquiry, I have written to the Prime Minister and the Federal Leader of the Opposition seeking their agreement to partner with us in offsetting all additional emissions,” Gunner said

“In addition, this government will soon be seeking comment on draft climate change and environmental offset policies, which we want to finalise before the end of the 2018.

“These reforms will require significant additional resources and we have approved $5.33 million over three years to implement the 135 recommendations. This will ensure that our unique environment is protected while much needed new jobs are created – particularly in remote and regional parts of the Territory.”

The NT Government will immediately begin work on a detailed implementation plan for the 135 recommendations of the final report, which it expects to release to the public in July.