Kings Canyon, one of the Northern Territory’s major tourist attractions, is under threat from fracking.
Frack Free Coordinator for Central Australia Tanya Hall said it was concerning that oil and gas company Palatine Energy was seeking to drill and frack in the world-renowned Watarrka National Park, south-west of Alice Springs.
Ms Hall said the park, which includes the iconic Kings Canyon, was one of the nation’s most important areas for central Australian biodiversity and cultural heritage protection.
“People come from all over the world to experience the nature and beauty of this unique national park and to walk the Kings Canyon trails,” Ms Hall said.
“The park is a major contributor to the NT economy attracting more than 230,000 visitors a year. It is promoted around the world as part of Australia’s red centre yet it is not even protected from mining.
“The Watarrka National Park contains over 170 significant art sites, more than 670 species of plants including rare plant communities and habitats of national environmental value.
“It is simply ridiculous to even consider fracking in this special place yet that is what the NT Government is doing. Mining is incompatible with the environmental, cultural and tourism values of this park.”
Palatine Energy has applied for oil and gas exploration permits that cover the majority of the park’s 105,000ha. The decision rests entirely with the NT minister for mines
“Traditional owners and Aboriginal members of the park’s joint management committee have unanimously rejected the proposals to explore for oil and gas in the national park but have no power of veto due to an anomaly in the land title,” Ms Hall said.
“In Central Australia we have been left waiting with baited breath for the government to knock this proposal on its head but as yet have heard nothing.”
The NT government recently completed an eight-month inquiry into hydraulic fracturing but was yet to release the findings.
Photos available on request