A 200-page report by respected former senior public servant Allan Hawke into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory has found that with robust regulations and close monitoring fracking can be done safely and sustainably .
After a nine-month inquiry, Dr Hawke found there was no justification for imposing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the NT.
Hydraulic fracturing has already been performed on more than 30 wells in the Territory since the 1970s without incident.
Hydraulic fracturing can be used to develop the Territory’s shale gas resource, estimated to be one of the largest in the world.
However, none of the 24 NT onshore wells planned for drilling in 2015 involve hydraulic fracturing.
The six recommendations from the Hawke report, released on 26 February, are:
- Consistent with other Australian and international reviews, the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime.
- The substantive weight of agreed expert opinion leads the Inquiry to find that there is no justification whatsoever for the imposition of a moratorium of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.
- The NT Government form a Cabinet Sub-Committee, chaired by the Deputy Chief Minister and comprising the Ministers whose portfolios cover Lands, Planning and the Environment; Land Resource Management; Mines and Energy; and Primary Industry and Fisheries to oversee the work required for the Northern Territory to set the standard for a best practice regulatory regime.
- The Northern Territory Environmental Assessment Act be restructured in the light of this Report and the proposed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth on environmental assessments and approvals.
- The NT Government consider aligning the petroleum and mineral royalty frameworks.
- The NT Government propose through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Standing Council on Energy and Resources that the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) host a workshop of international academies to consider their collective findings, learn from each other and identify the findings shared by all of the academies.
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