Onshore fracking has been given the green light in the Northern Territory’s gas-rich Beetaloo Basin, clearing the way for a controversial expansion of wells and production in a move that has dismayed traditional owners and environmental groups.
NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the government had finally satisfied all 135 recommendations from the independent Pepper inquiry into fracking, which it commissioned after it lifted the moratorium on fracking five years ago.
“The Northern Territory, the Australian government and in fact our partners around the world all have the same ambition to be a net-zero emission economy as soon as we can … but we need an energy source as we step through to that,” Fyles said.
“We have strengthened government agencies, we have strengthened legislation to rigorously assess environmental management plans.”
Almost 100 scientists, co-ordinated by the Australia Institute think tank, published an open letter in national newspapers on Wednesday, urging the NT government to not approve gas fracking and warning of the climate damage it would inflict.
The 2018 Pepper inquiry found industry risks could be managed if its recommendations were implemented in full.