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McGowan criticised for not waiting until Waitsia environmental assessment complete

Farmers and Lock the Gate Alliance in Western Australia are alarmed the State Government appears to have effectively given the controversial proposed Waitsia Gas Project Stage 2 the green light before waiting for the outcome of a full environmental assessment.

Today, Premier Mark McGowan announced the yet-to-be constructed gasfield expansion would be the only one in WA to produce gas for export.

Local farmer Rod Copeland, whose vegetable and fruit growing property is across the road from Waitsia, said he was concerned this decision could lead to fracking as had occurred in 2009.

Mr Copeland and his wife Annette live closer to a fracked gas well - Cory Bas - than anyone else in WA currently. 

“The company (Mitsui E&P 50 percent/Beach Energy 50 percent) has always said that this field was for local supply, not international sale,” Mr Copeland said.

“Obviously now they will want more gas, and they might want to frack to get more gas out. Neither the company nor the government has ruled out fracking. While the McGowan Government has protected all West Australians during the Covid-19 pandemic, it does not give the government the right to put the community at risk through a toxic operation like fracking.

“The more gas they pull out, the more it puts the community and the environment at risk because there is always a certain percentage of gas that escapes during the production process. It also means more trucks, more noise, and we will have to pick up the pieces when the gas company leaves.

“The gas industry doesn’t work well with the nearby general community - the companies do everything in their own time. The last time they flared their well we weren’t aware and our house vibrated, we could smell the gases, and it made our eyes sting.

“They don’t consider other people - the gas industry is inherently selfish.

“The McGowan Government has just announced $22 million to fast track the hydrogen energy industry and I believe it should put the same towards renewables, or more, because those industries are a lot cleaner, and they’re better for the population of WA and for climate change.”

Lock the Gate Alliance WA spokesperson Simone van Hattem said farmers who provided food and fibre to Western Australians should not be sacrificed for the sake of a finite gas industry.

“We call on the McGowan Government, Mitsui, and Beach to rule out fracking at Waitsia, and to complete a full environmental assessment,” she said.

“Mitsui and Beach must be forced to come clean on how they will protect local air quality and water resources, and how the companies will deal with increased noise volumes.

“The locality of Irwin, which borders the Waitsia project, has declared itself fracking gasfield free. Bonniefield, just up the road, has also done so. Locals do not want this region turned into a dirty, dangerous fracking zone and the McGowan Government must listen.

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