The much-anticipated final report from the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory has been released – concluding that “the challenges and risks associated with any onshore shale gas industry in the NT can be appropriately managed”.
Concluding almost two years of extensively detailed analysis, interviews, panel hearings and site visits, the Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper’s Panel has handed down its final report which will now go to the Gunner Government for a final say on whether or not to lift the moratorium on fracking.
As previously highlighted by the Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan: “It’s really important for our economy that we have access to affordable gas.”
He was referring to the national economy, but in terms of the NT, he could not be more right. The NT depends on natural gas to power to entire Territory. Without it, there would be no lights, no air-con, no power.
The Inquiry’s report has gone into extensive detail to come to its final conclusion – and no doubt the report will provide a level of comfort to the Gunner Government in being able to make an informed, evidence-based decision.
Business commentators such as AIG CEO Innes Willox have already stated in a submission to the Inquiry that:
“If the NT Government made the sensible decision to lift the ban on fracking and replace it with a robust, scientifically based regulatory framework there is no doubt that there would be immediate and long-term benefits to the NT economy and to the broader community.
“These benefits include higher employment and incomes with associated rises in living standards.”
And while the Inquiry’s final report makes mention to community concern regarding potential environmental risks, it has made a number of detailed and informed recommendations about managing potential risks.
Risk is ever present, in every aspect of our lives – the same way it is in any development, whether it be infrastructure, agriculture or drilling for natural gas, but it’s about ensuring and maintaining a robust regulatory framework that manages the planning right through to the execution phase.
Among the 16 detailed recommendations made in the final report, regulation is a prominent feature.
The Inquiry also details that, if its recommendations are adopted, “not only should the risks associated with an onshore shale gas industry be minimised to an acceptable level, in some instances, they can be avoided altogether.”
So, it’s clear – it is now time to unlock the gate to the responsible development of the Territory’s vast shale gas reserves, and ignore the shrill outrage of ill-informed activists.