WA Government to ban fracking on 98% of land

Image: The Government of Western Australia

The Western Australian Government has banned hydraulic fracturing over 98 per cent of the state, with traditional owners and farmers having the right to say no to fracking production for the first time.

Its existing ban continues to stand over South-West, Peel and Perth metropolitan region.

The ban also applies to existing and proposed national parks, Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley and public drinking water source areas.

Fracking can only be approved on land covered by existing exploration and production licenses – about 2 per cent of the state – under the update.

The state government will only lift the ban on existing onshore petroleum titles if a scientific inquiry finds the risk to people and environment low.

The new controls follow a 12-month inquiry by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said, “As a government, we have a responsibility to deliver positive outcomes, based on a robust, independent scientific inquiry, in the best interests of all Western Australians.”

Dawson said the state government would embark on renewed action on greenhouse gas emissions. Royalties from unconventional oil and gas projects will increase to 10 per cent – the same rate that applies to conventional petroleum production – and will be used to support new renewable energy projects.

The EPA inquiry made 44 recommendations, which will all be implemented by the state government before any fracking production approvals are granted.

Major changes to the existing regulations include no fracking within two kilometres of gazetted public drinking water source areas; all fracking projects requiring EPA assessment; and no fracking within two kilometres of towns, settlements or residents.

Premier Mark McGowan said, “This is a balanced and responsible policy that supports economic opportunity, new jobs, environmental protection and landowner rights.”