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Gunner Government keeps Territorians in the dark over largest frack plan so far

Protect Country Alliance is deeply concerned Territorians are being kept in the dark after Empire Energy lodged plans for the NT’s largest ever fracking program, but no notification went out from the Gunner Government’s purpose built “Have Your Say” website.

The proposal, lodged as an Environment Management Plan by Empire Energy subsidiary Imperial Oil and Gas, shows the company wants to drill and frack seven gas wells near Borroloola and clear more than 150 hectares for associated infrastructure like well pads and roads. The public comment period ends today (Wednesday, May 19).

The “Have Your Say” website replaced newspaper notifications for major projects in the NT from the end of March 2021. Despite assurances from Environment Minister Eva Lawler’s office that subscribers to the “Have Your Say” website would receive notifications when such proposals were lodged, subscribers have since been told registering with the website “doesn’t mean you will be automatically notified when surveys are published on the site”.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said it was bad enough the Gunner Government was considering allowing Empire Energy to frack seven gas wells - but to be hiding the plan from the public was atrocious.

“This outrageous Empire Energy proposal will likely have gone unnoticed by many in the community,” he said.

Mr Sawyer said the Gunner Government needed to heed the advice of the International Energy Agency report released yesterday, which says countries like Australia must stop opening more land to new polluting gasfields.

"The IEA says we have but a slim chance to avoid catastrophic global warming. Sacrificing the Beetaloo to polluting fracking companies is putting us on a path towards climate chaos," he said.

“Empire wants to drill through the heart of the Territory and pierce its precious underground water reserves like a pincushion. The public deserves to be well informed.

“The lack of public notifications for this project is part of a pattern from the Gunner Government of removing transparency and hiding controversial information from the public. 

“It is appalling that the NT Government would try to save a few thousand dollars by no longer advertising in print, thereby reducing community input, and yet spend millions subsidising fracking companies. The Gunner Government’s priorities are clearly wrong.

“The recent discovery of genetically similar stygofauna across a huge swathe of underground aquifers showed much of the Beetaloo’s groundwater is connected, thus increasing the risk of any fracking contamination event posed to communities and industry.

“Then we heard the government had dumped the company paid to complete important baseline environmental studies before fracking commences, as specified in the Pepper Report.

“We have heard nothing substantial from the government in response to these serious issues, instead it has drawn the curtains and withdrawn from transparent, public collaboration while at the same time continuing to hand out millions of dollars in public money to the fracking industry.”


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