Territorians are being urged to defend their water and reject the NT Government’s planned no-go zone fracking maps, which place communities, high-value farmland and important cultural and ecological sites at risk.
The public has one week left to comment on the mapping which, if adopted and enshrined in legislation in its current form, would jeopardise drinking water for towns like Alice Springs, impact important cultural sites, and damage world-renowned wetlands.
Worryingly, the government appears to have already approved some areas of the NT for fracking despite the ongoing public consultation period.
This week, the government approved Origin Energy's environmental management plan for civil engineering works to resume on its Kyalla test well on the Hayfield Shenandoah Station near Daly Waters, and gave Santos the go ahead to undertake civil engineering works and seismic testing on Tanumbirini Station north of Elliott.
Regional baseline water and biodiversity studies the Pepper inquiry ordered are also not yet complete.
Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said it was madness for the government to be considering sacrificing so much water and land to the industry, particularly with the Territory now struggling off the back of one of the driest wet seasons in history.
“Fifty-one per cent of the Northern Territory is still not protected from invasive fracking, including key catchment areas, high-value agricultural land, and town water supplies,” Mr Sawyer said.
“Important sites of cultural and ecological significance like Lake Woods, a critical breeding site for dozens of threatened bird species including the Gouldian Finch, and the recharge zones of Mataranka thermal springs are also in danger according to the government’s plans.
“The catchment areas or flow rates for the Daly, Roper and Katherine Rivers which support important recreational fishing and tourism and provide the life blood to Mataranka, Katherine, the lower Daly and broader regional communities will be affected.
“Companies like Origin Energy and Santos are planning to start fracking as early as next month, but the government’s mapping leaves critical farming, fishing, tourism areas and natural and cultural assets under threat of gasfield development.”
“We are urging all Territorians, and all those who love the Territory, to let the NT Government know their no-go zones do not go far enough to protect the NT.”
Barkley Regional Councilor for Patta Ward Jeffrey McLaughlin said fracking operations would negatively impact Tennant Creek even if the no-go zones surrounding it were upheld.
“The no go zone is not very big around our water area in Tennant Creek. The bore is very close to the permissible fracking zones,” he said.
“Water security, tourism, and agribusiness in the region, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Territory's economy, relies on water from underground aquifers being sustainably managed.
“This will all be compromised should fracking be allowed to proceed as the government and companies intend.”
Alice Springs councilor Marli Banks said the drinking water supplies for Alice Springs and surrounding communities was at risk from exploration in the catchment area, as the water control district was not included for the no go zones.
“There is little consideration given to the scarcity of water in our arid region - there is a crossover with the current granted petroleum licences, as they overlap with the water control district ” she said.
“My understanding is that this district will be earmarked for fracking in the coming months and this puts our water at direct risk of contamination. It’s very concerning for locals.”
“The industrialisation of this region will also directly impact an already suffering tourism market, and could increase airfares for locals.
“We are also coming off one of our hottest summers on record, and encouraging industrial development that will increase global warming is not something that we should be doing.”
To have your say, head to https://www.protectcountrynt.org.au/no_go_zones.