More than half of the Northern Territory’s massive 1.4 million sq km area will be open to hydraulic fracturing of onshore gas under the Gunner Labor Government’s plans.
The NT Government released its proposed fracking “no go zones” in a report on Friday.
The first exploration fracking by petroleum companies such as Origin Energy and Santos in the gas-rich Beetaloo Basin is expected to occur in just over a month .
There are currently 15 NT locations where petroleum exploration or production including the controversial practice of fracking cannot occur.
That includes obvious locations such as Uluru and Kakadu National Park and the four largest towns including Darwin and Alice Springs.
However dozens of other significant areas are not yet formally blocked from gas exploration, such as the MacDonnell Ranges, Tiwi Islands and Mataranka with its famous hot springs.
Those areas would be part of the Territory Government’s proposed “no-go zones”, representing 654,900 sq km or 48.44 per cent of the Northern Territory.
The report comes more than a year after the Labor government lifted its own two-year ban on fracking, following a divisive debate between opponents who say it will threaten water supplies, and supporters who say it will create jobs
An independent report by Justice Rachel Pepper found then that the risks associated with fracking of gas deposits could be managed and regulated.
“The plan would protect the environment, create jobs and ensure the government and industry were transparent and accountable, Primary Industry and Resources Minister Paul Kirby said.
Traditional landowners will also be able to veto fracking under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act over and above the government.
However some Aboriginal groups want fracking on their land because of the economic gains, such as providing jobs which is a key problem in remote Indigenous communities.
About 50 per cent of the land in the NT is Aboriginal land and 85 per cent of the coastline.