Interim report released for NT fracking inquiry Martin Kovacs, 17 Jul 2017

The independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs in the Northern Territory has released its interim report ahead of the next round of public hearings and completion of the final report by the end of the year.

Inquiry Chair Justice Rachel Pepper stated that since it began in December last year, “the inquiry has undertaken a considerable amount of work”, with the first stage of public hearings and consultation having been conducted in March.

“A total of 293 submissions were received by the inquiry so far, 37 public hearings were conducted and the inquiry visited 17 towns and communities across the Territory, as well as numerous other stakeholder engagement activities,” Pepper stated.

“As a result of this consultation process, additional risks have been identified and taken into account by the panel, which are outlined in the interim report. The interim report also sets out a methodology for assessing the risks and determining whether they can be mitigated to an acceptable level by appropriate regulatory safeguards.”

The next round of public hearings will take place between July 31 and August 10, Pepper advised.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) has welcomed the release of the interim report.

“The gas industry is pleased the interim report has been released on schedule and that the inquiry remains on track to be completed this year,” APPEA NT Director Matthew Doman commented.

“We look forward to the panel concluding its work and enabling the NT government to make a decision on development of the Territory’s abundant gas resources. The industry is ready to invest billions in the NT when – and if – the government’s fracking moratorium is lifted.”

Doman stated that APPEA believes that “developing the Territory’s natural gas resources offers significant public benefits, including jobs and training opportunities in regional communities, improved infrastructure and services, and direct benefits to the traditional owners and landholders who host development on their land”.

“While we don’t believe the inquiry is necessary, we acknowledge it was an election promise of the NT government,” he commented. “As such, we will continue to support the inquiry to ensure its work is factual, complete and relevant to the NT. Numerous studies in Australia and overseas have confirmed that, properly regulated, our industry is safe.”

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