Planned seismic surveys that will search for gas north of Perth threaten Aboriginal Heritage sites, important ecological communities, and tourism, according to Lock the Gate Alliance Western Australia.
Following a successful campaign that led to Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority agreeing to hold a public review in response to Beach Energy’s plan to conduct a seismic survey in the Mid West, Lock the Gate WA is now calling on the EPA to do the same for Mineral Resources’ “Raven” proposal.
The company wants to clear about 40 hectares of native vegetation and use thumper trucks to survey across 122.6 km2, which is near communities that have declared ‘gasfield free’ like Bibby Springs, Cervantes, Dandaragan, Hill River, and Jurien Bay.
The surveys will mean tracks are cleared through sensitive wetlands and a nature reserve, and could disturb the nearby and renowned Pinnacles (Nambung National Park).
Yued Elder Bev Port-Louis said she was worried several sacred birthing sites in the seismic testing area could be impacted.
“Enough is enough of destroying Aboriginal sites. If we don’t voice our opinions the government and mining companies will just keep destroying the things we want to protect," she said.
“As an Elder and a grandmother and a great-grandmother it just rips your guts out when nobody wants to listen and the government doesn’t want to protect these places because their only interest is mining companies.
“You go out on that Brand Highway and as a woman, you could just burst into tears looking at what has been ripped out of that land. Our nannas gave birth to their children there and we feel very strongly about birthing sites.”
Philip Jennings from Wetlands Conservation Society said, “The proposed seismic survey would heavily impact a threatened ecological community and a priority ecological community.
“The survey would also impact a nature reserve with high quality undisturbed native vegetation and valuable wetlands. This is an area of high biodiversity that is now free of dieback and feral animals and weeds. This survey could risk introducing these issues to the area.
“It could lead eventually to fracking or gas extraction, which would have a devastating impact on the flora and fauna. We believe it is important to assess this project at the highest possible level because of the significance of the area and the potential impacts on it.”
Lock the Gate WA coordinator Jarrad Thomas said locals were deeply concerned the surveys would lead to fracking and damaging gas extraction.
“The public deserves the most complete information possible on what the gas companies are targeting here and how local communities will be impacted.
“We know there are shale and tight gas reserves here, and that companies would need to frack to extract those difficult to access gas reserves.
“Many communities in and around the northern Perth Basin near this proposed gas survey have declared themselves fracking gasfield free.
“Any company that tries to frack this part of WA will have a massive fight on their hands.”