Community Update #3 - 13 February 2017

The Inquiry has confirmed the major centres and remote communities for its community consultation program in March 2017 following the second meeting of the Inquiry panel on 8 – 9 February 2017.

The Inquiry Chair, Justice Rachel Pepper, said that in addition to scientific research and analysis, community consultation is a critical component of the Inquiry’s evidence gathering program.

“Next month the Inquiry will visit 15 locations across the Territory in order to better understand the community’s views on hydraulic fracturing,” Justice Pepper said.

“The objective is to listen, understand and report on the issues and concerns of all Territorians, within the scope of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.

“The consultation program will include a series of formal hearings as well as community sessions, with further details, including registration, available on our website this week.”

The Inquiry has also finalised its Issues Paper, which will be released towards the end of February, ahead of the March community visits.

“The Issues Paper will underpin the discussion with the community about the possible risks and potential benefits associated with hydraulic fracturing and its associated activities,” she said.

 “We look forward to discussing these in more detail with Territorians in March.

“If people are unable to attend, we encourage them to write to the Inquiry, put in a submission, or go to our website and have their say on the issues and themes outlined in the paper.”

Feedback and information gathered during forthcoming community consultation will be included in an interim report.

“The Inquiry is fortunate to have 10 highly experienced expert panel members and at this stage, I anticipate that the interim report will be released mid 2017 and the final report will be published by the end of the year,” Justice Pepper said.  

As the previous Community Update reported, a delegation of the Inquiry recently undertook a field trip to the Cooper Basin in South Australia to witness hydraulic fracturing operations.

“The purpose of the visit to the Cooper Basin was to see first-hand the hydraulic fracturing activities associated with deep gas extraction and not coal seam gas extraction which typically occurs closer to the surface,” she said.

“The type of hydraulic fracturing and drilling operations observed by the panel during its field trip to the Cooper Basin was in fact for tight gas, not shale gas, contrary to what was previously advised in the last Community Update,” Justice Pepper clarified.

“The main difference is that in most instances shale gas requires horizontal drilling and fracturing whereas, at least in the Cooper Basin, tight gas requires vertical drilling and fracturing. But otherwise the processes are very similar.”

Justice Pepper went on to say that the Inquiry is now focused on the upcoming community consultation program.

“I look forward to moving to the next stage of the Inquiry and to talking and engaging with as many Territorians as possible. I am therefore pleased to announce the major centres and remote communities the Inquiry will visit,” said Justice Pepper.

The first stage of community consultations are 6 – 10 March 2017 as follows:

  • 6 March 2017 – Alice Springs
  • 7 March 2017 – Tennant Creek
  • 8 March 2017 – Katherine 
  • 9 March 2017 – Darwin 
  • 10 March 2017 – Darwin 

The second stage of community consultation will occur in the following communities 20 March – 29 March 2017, with further detail and dates to be announced next week:

  • Maningrida
  • Gapuwiyak
  • Nhulunbuy
  • Ngukurr
  • Borroloola
  • Daly Waters
  • Mataranka
  • Wadeye 
  • Timber Creek
  • Yuendumu
  • Hermannsburg