The Independent Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the
Northern Territory has found that the environmental risks
associated with fracking can be managed effectively by a robust
The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing
in the Northern Territory has been released. Its major
recommendation is that, consistent with other reviews undertaken
abroad and in other parts of Australia, "hydraulic fracturing
can be managed effectively subject to the creation of a robust
The Inquiry's terms of reference
The Northern Territory Government established the Inquiry last
year to undertake an investigation into hydraulic fracturing for
hydrocarbon deposits in the Northern Territory. A thorough study of
the potential environmental effects of fracking was a chief concern
of the Inquiry.
To that end, the terms of reference set down by the Chief
to separate the proven evidence about environmental risk from
the myths and to give an accurate picture based on science;
to provide recommendations on whether steps should be taken to
mitigate any potential impacts of fracking.
Findings and recommendations
The Inquiry noted community concern regarding the environmental
impact of fracking but concluded that the weight of expert opinion
indicates that there is no justification whatsoever for the
imposition of a moratorium in the Northern Territory.
In the event that there are exploitable commercial quantities of
shale gas in the Northern Territory, the Inquiry acknowledges that
it will take some time for production to be reached. The Report
canvasses a number of options for transporting product to market,
the development of an LNG train in Darwin to take the gas;
extending the north-south pipeline to Mount Isa or Moomba to
link with the eastern seaboard grid.
In order to ensure that environmental concerns are adequately
addressed, the Inquiry recommends that a Cabinet Sub-Committee be
established to oversee the processes relevant to establishing a
best practice regulatory regime.
Other recommendations made by the Inquiry include:
that the Environmental Assessment Act be restructured; and
that consideration should be given as to whether the petroleum
and mineral royalty frameworks should be aligned.
The Government has indicated that it broadly accepts all of the
recommendations contained in the Report.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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