Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Peoples Voice

Fracking not a minor concern for farmers

In June 2012 the WA farmers released a position calling for a moratorium.

WA Farmers Statement

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) calls for the State Government to implement a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) projects until farmer concerns are addressed.

Farmers are increasingly concerned about the extraction of unconventional gas deposits as more fracking projects in Western Australia are being considered. 

WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said WAFarmers’ principal concerns in terms of fracking are the direct impact on landholders and the unknown environmental and water impacts.“WAFarmers has concerns that currently the legislative protection offered to farmers through the Mining Act 1978 does not exist in the Acts which allows for gas and petroleum exploration activity on farmland,” Mr. Park said.

“Specifically, Section 29 of the Mining Act 1978 contains the ‘power of veto’ which requires that mining tenements cannot be granted without the consent in writing of the owner and occupier of private land where agricultural pursuits are being carried out. 

“To address this, WAFarmers is seeking amendments which deliver ‘the power of veto’ to at least the State’s Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967 and Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969.”

Mr Park said in addition to legislative changes, more research was needed into the impacts of unconventional gas extraction.

“At the moment, we are operating in a knowledge vacuum and the public needs more information on the impact of fracking in order to make informed decisions,” Mr Park said.

“Clearly there is a need for a wide ranging environmental impact assessment to occur prior to the approval of any future fracking projects.”

Mr Park said if fracking had a detrimental effect on water supply, this would be a major concern for the State’s farmers.

“Water is such a vital farm input and already in short supply, so contamination of a water supply could be terminal for farm businesses,” he said.

Mr Park believed the mining industry should pay for its own exploration and not use State Government funds.

“I have criticised the State Government for paying resource firms millions of Royalties for Regions dollars to search for gas deposits on agricultural land, perhaps a better use for these funds could be to fund research into the impacts of fracking,” Mr Park said.

“This is particularly relevant, given the recent announcement of funding cuts to the State’s key agencies supporting agriculture.”

WAFarmers calls on the State Government to assure the State’s farmers that fracking is an activity that is not detrimental to their farm business and agricultural land.

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