Community Update #31 - 27 March 2018

The Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs in the Northern Territory (Inquiry) presented its Final Report (Final Report) to the Northern Territory Government today.

The Final Report comprises three separate documents: the Final Report (Book 1); the Appendices (Book 2); and the Executive Summary (Book 3). The Final Report contains 135 recommendations.

The Final Report represents the culmination of 15 months’ of work by the Inquiry, during which time the Panel:

  • met 12 times;
  • held 52 community forums, including 37 in regional and remote areas, and 15 in urban centres;
  • conducted 151 public hearings;
  • published 31 Community Updates; and
  • received 1257 submissions.

The Chair of the Inquiry, Justice Rachel Pepper, said “this Report provides recommendations to mitigate to acceptable levels the identified risks associated with any onshore shale gas development in the NT if the Government lifts the moratorium.”

“No industry is without risk, and any onshore shale gas industry is no exception. However, it is the Panel’s opinion, expressed in the Final Report, that if all of the recommendations are implemented, the identified risks associated with any onshore shale gas industry can be mitigated or reduced to an acceptable level, and in some cases, the risks can be eliminated.”

Justice Pepper said that while the Inquiry’s scope was broader than that of previous inquiries into unconventional gas in the Northern Territory, the Inquiry nevertheless built upon the previous bodies of work. In addition, this Inquiry had a mandate to consult widely, unlike previous inquiries and reviews.

“The Inquiry has taken its mandate to consult widely very seriously through its stakeholder engagement, live-streamed public hearings and community forums, held throughout the Territory.”

Justice Pepper said the Panel has made findings and recommendations in its Final Report based on the best most recent and relevant available evidence, which included the views of the community expressed during the consultation process.

In addition to strengthening many of the recommendations made in the Draft Final Report, the Final Report includes:

  • an implementation Chapter, which states clearly that all of the recommendations in the Final Report must be implemented;
  • greater clarity on the timing of the implementation of the recommendations; and
  • the inclusion of a requirement that there be no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Australia as a consequence of the development of any onshore shale gas industry in the Northern Territory.

In releasing the Final Report, her Honour emphasised that it was not the role of the Inquiry to recommend whether or not the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory be lifted.

“Today the Inquiry delivered its Final Report to the Government and in doing so fulfilled its Terms of Reference. The decision whether or not to retain the ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory is a political decision that rests with the Government alone.”

Justice Pepper thanked the people of the Northern Territory for their enthusiastic engagement with the Inquiry. She also thanked the Taskforce supporting the Inquiry for their considerable assistance.

The Inquiry’s Final Report is available to download at