The Western Australian EPA must listen to Dongara region farmers and publicly assess the Waitsia Gasfield proposal before bending over backwards for the owners of the project, which will likely require fracking at a future stage.
The expansion of the gasfield has been referred to the Environmental Protection Authority for assessment, and Lock the Gate Alliance in WA is deeply concerned local people have so far not had an opportunity to express their concerns.
The parent company, multinational mining and gas giant Mitsui, already has a production permit for the gasfield, which lies below fertile farmland.
Local landholder Dianne Horne said, “We have already felt the impacts from the initial stages of the Waitsia gasfield, and think we should be provided with the opportunity to be consulted with during the assessment of this gasfield by the EPA.
“We have already had noise, light and air pollution impacts, and are very concerned about the amount of water that will be used, and the risks of ground and surface water contamination, Ms Horne said.
“The Waitsia Gasfield expansion would be a mammoth operation, with huge amounts of water required, many more wells drilled, a massive new gas processing plant, and a significant increase in traffic.
“Gas in the area has been described in the past as conventional with an unconventional upside, which means we are concerned that Mitsui, or a future owner of the gasfield, would want to frack the wells to co-develop the tighter gas there.
Lock the Gate Mid West coordinator Simone van Hattem said, “Given the significance of the impacts of the gasfield and its future stages, local and regional community members must be able to have a say during a full and comprehensive assessment by the EPA.
“There are wells in the Waitsia area that have previously been fracked. We know there is tight gas there, and the only way to get at it is to frack. It seems likely that that this company will want to frack, and there is nothing to stop it now the moratorium has been lifted, even though the Irwin community has declared since 2015 to remain Gasfield Free, with 98% of those surveyed in support,” she said.
“The Waitsia Gasfield will also increase WA's greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore also of interest to the wider WA community.”