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No-go fracking zones fracture Territory communities in two

Protect Country Alliance condemns the deeply flawed and farcical process followed by the Northern Territory Government to determine its “no-go fracking zones”.

The government today confirmed fracking companies would be granted open slather to more than half of the NT’s landmass, after failing to apply its own criteria for the protection of critical assets like town drinking water supplies and areas of natural and cultural significance.

Unbelievably, the NT Government has also today approved Santos’ Environmental Management Plan for a gas well, without actually mentioning the company will have to frack in order to access shale gas as planned.

Alawa Elder Naomi Wilfred from Minyerri community said allowing so much land to be fracked would create two classes of residents in the Territory - communities where drinking water and other assets were protected, and others that would be sacrificed to gas fracking companies. 

“This government has got no shame. It’s leaving remote and Aboriginal communities at the mercy of fracking companies, while protecting inner-city areas where they want votes,” she said.

“The no-go-zones process has no scientific basis and is instead being corrupted by political influence.

“Despite what the government may claim, many Aboriginal people do not have the right to refuse fracking operations on their land. Many Aboriginal communities and our water supplies are still left in a frack zone.”

Alice Springs resident Heather McIntyre said even the towns that had been arbitrarily declared as ‘no-go zones' were not fully protected.

“Alice Springs residents’ water supply is still not safe from fracking,” she said.

“Gas fracking companies should not be allowed to play Russian Roulette with Territorians’ drinking water supplies by risking spills and contamination incidents in catchment areas.

“The insidious nature of fracking means many of the impacts are felt underground and in water aquifers - not always where the well-head is located.”

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Lauren Mellor said according to the released mapping, the government was even allowing fracking within the recharge area for the world renowned, sacred Mataranka Springs and the Roper River.

“It shows a complete failure to apply the government’s own criteria for protection. Mataranka springs are an important cultural site and high-value tourism area, yet the springs and the Roper River remain exposed to fracking and exploration in the water recharge area,” she said.

“It is insane that this polluting industry is being allowed to run rampant across the NT, where water is such a precious resource.”

There is one silver lining from today’s announcement however, with revelations people power has pressured the NT Government into expanding its originally proposed no-go zone around Katherine.

“We fought long and hard for this, and we have achieved a victory today for our community. But it is bittersweet when we know so many other Territorians, including our near neighbours, are still exposed to the risks of fracking,” said Don’t Frack Katherine spokesperson and local tourism operator Petrena Ariston.

“We will continue to stand with all Territory communities until we stop this fracking cancer spreading across our landscape.”

Ms Mellor said the NT Government had also lied through its teeth by claiming it was upholding the recommendations of the fracking inquiry.

“The government is breaking this promise by failing to apply the criteria for no go zones fairly and faithfully across the NT,” she said.

Ms Mellor said the approval of Santos’ Environmental Management Plan also demonstrated how little the government knew about the fracking industry.

“Santos and the NT Government have teamed up on a dirty process. The plan they just approved is for Santos to drill the well, but the government has failed to address the fact Santos would then need to frack the well. 

“Santos is chasing shale gas, which always needs to be fracked, using high pressure and a chemical slurry. But the Santos EMP totally failed to include the details of the fracking process. This assessment process is death by a thousand cuts.”

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