Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (WA EPA) has agreed to hold a public review over planned seismic surveys in the state’s Mid-West.
Beach Energy Limited is proposing to undertake an onshore three-dimensional (3D) seismic survey in the northern Perth Basin, located about 300 kilometres (km) north of Perth.
The intent of the survey is to collect a high-quality 3D dataset that can be used to map geological formations to assist in the identification of conventional gas reserves and detailed reservoir development.
According to the WA EPA, potential significant effects of the proposed survey include requiring the clearing of up to 1000 ha of native vegetation which has the potential to impact on flora and vegetation.
There are also potential impacts on terrestrial fauna from the clearing of habitat and from collision vehicle and plant movement, and potential impacts to social surroundings from construction and operational noise, dust and vibration.
There has been 358 submissions in response to the proposed survey, with 350 of those calling for a public review.
In response to its decision, the WA EPA stated that: “The preliminary key environmental factors require further information, the impacts occur within a large spatial area and the biodiversity in the area is particularly high and complex.”
“Assessment is required to determine the extent of the proposal’s direct and indirect impacts, and how the environmental issues relating to flora and vegetation, terrestrial fauna and social surrounds may be managed.”
The Lock the Gate Alliance (LGA) and Frack Free WA have expressed they are not in favour of the survey.
The LGA said while the surveys may be searching for conventional gas, it remains “deeply sceptical” because with the fracking moratorium lifted, there would be nothing to stop fracking if shale and/or tight gas is discovered.
“People power has been successful here in ensuring the EPA’s assessment of this massive gas survey across the Mid-West region is open to public comment and review,” commented LGA WA coordinator, Jarrad Thomas.
“The public deserves the most complete information possible on what the gas companies are targeting here and how local communities will be impacted.”
Pointing to a report published in 2015 by the Western Australian Government, Mr Thomas said they are aware that there are shale and tight gas reserves present and companies would need to frack to extract those difficult to access gas reserves.
“Many communities in and around the northern Perth Basin near this proposed gas survey have declared themselves fracking gasfield free,” he said.
“Any company that tries to frack this part of WA will have a massive fight on their hands.”
Mr Thomas concluded by stating that the LGA “strongly welcomes” the EPA’s decision to conduct a public review of the seismic survey.