A whole-of-government Implementation Plan has just been released, outlining the Western Australian Government’s response to the Independent Scientific Panel Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation.
On 5 September 2017, the Western Australian Government announced an Independent Scientific Panel Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia.
The Inquiry handed its final report, which contained 91 findings and 44 recommendations, to the State Government on 12 September 2018.
The government accepted in-principle the Inquiry’s recommendations and on 27 November 2018 announced its Policy Decisions relating to hydraulic fracture stimulation in Western Australia.
Some of the key actions of the Implementation Plan include lifting the hydraulic fracturing moratorium on existing onshore petroleum titles, banning hydraulic fracturing within 2000 meters of gazetted Public Drinking Water Source Areas, in national parks, the Dampier Peninsula and iconic natural heritage areas, as well as the requirement for Traditional Owner and private landowner consent prior to hydraulic fracture production.
Other actions in response to the Inquiry include referring all hydraulic fracture stimulation exploration and production proposals to the Environmental Protection Authority, as well as strengthening current regulations to ensure high health, safety and environmental protection standards.
A Senior Officials Steering Group has been formed to lead the government’s response.
The group is co-chaired by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
The steering group will focus on introducing world-class controls to protect the environment, community and culture, and ensure the industry is accountable for its practices.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) have welcomed the release of the Implementation Plan, stating that it is ‘a step in the right direction’ and ‘will help provide confidence in the sector’.
APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, said the plan highlighted there were robust regulations in place for onshore exploration and development in WA.
“Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Western Australia for more than 60 years and the independent scientific inquiry confirmed that properly regulated, hydraulic fracturing is a safe practice,” Mr McConville said.
“Industry agrees with the Government that WA has a proud history of safe and responsible oil and gas operations, and the sector will work closely with regulators, stakeholders and regional communities to maintain this world-class approach.”
A copy of the Implementation Plan can be found here: www.hydraulicfracturing.wa.gov.au