Community Update #14 - 14 July 2017

The independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs in the Northern Territory released its Interim Report today.

The Interim Report is available to view online.

The Inquiry Chair, Justice Rachel Pepper, said the Interim Report is a significant piece of work for the Inquiry. The report details the activities undertaken by the Inquiry Panel to date and its preliminary analysis of some of the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the Northern Territory.
“The Inquiry has undertaken a considerable amount of work since it began in December last year and it is important that the Inquiry provides an update to Territorians,” Justice Pepper said.
“The first stage of public hearings and community consultation conducted in March 2017 was focussed on identifying the risks and issues of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the Northern Territory. A total of 293 submissions were received by the Inquiry so far, 37 public hearings were conducted and the Inquiry visited 17 towns and communities across the Territory, as well as numerous other stakeholder engagement activities.

“As a result of this consultation process, additional risks have been identified and taken into account by the Panel, which are outlined in the Interim Report.

“The Interim Report also sets out a methodology for assessing the risks and determining whether they can be mitigated to an acceptable level by appropriate regulatory safeguards.

“The Interim Report examines the risks identified within the themes of water, land, air, public health, Aboriginal People and their culture, social impacts, economic impacts and regulatory reform, and makes some preliminary observations about those risks, including the likelihood and consequence of some of those risks occurring and what further information or analysis is required.
“Some preliminary assessments include, for example, that the reinjection of waste water into groundwater should not be allowed.
“In many cases, however, the Panel’s interim assessment is that more data is required before the risks can be fully assessed.”

Justice Pepper said the Inquiry had opened registrations last week for its next round of public hearings in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek, which will take place between 31 July and 10 August 2017.

“The next stage of public hearings is important in order for the Inquiry Panel to fill some of the information gaps and obtain more evidence for its risk assessments going forward,” Justice Pepper said.
“The Inquiry will be calling on some stakeholders to provide additional information at the public hearings, however, the Inquiry welcomes any organisation, stakeholder or member of the public who wants to present information or evidence to the Panel.”

Participants will have the option of 30 or 60 minute time allocations to present and respond to questions from the Inquiry.

The hearing schedule is:

Date Location Venue
31 July 2017 Darwin Darwin Convention Centre
1 August 2017 Darwin Darwin Convention Centre
2 August 2017 Darwin Darwin Convention Centre
3 August 2017 Alice Springs Alice Springs Convention Centre
4 August 2017 Alice Springs Alice Springs Convention Centre
8 August 2017 Katherine Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre
9 August 2017 Katherine Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre
10 August 2017 Tennant Creek Tennant Creek Civic Hall

For more information and to register visit the public hearings page. Registration is open until midnight 19 July 2017.

Following the hearings, from 22 August to 1 September 2017 the Inquiry will also conduct a second round of consultations in towns and communities throughout the Northern Territory, details of which will be released soon.

The Inquiry’s draft Final Report will be released towards the end of the year, and the Final Report completed by the end of the year.