Australia: Final terms of reference for NT fracking inquiry released

The final terms of reference and expert panel have been announced for the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, with the moratorium on fracking to remain in place for the term of the Inquiry.

On 3 December 2016, the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Lauren Moss announced the final Terms of Reference and the Panel members for the independent scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional reservoirs and associated activities in the Northern Territory.

Finalising the draft Terms of Reference

We previously examined the draft Terms of Reference for the Inquiry which were open for public consultation until 13 October 2016. It is understood that the final Terms of Reference have been broadened in response to key issues raised in public submissions to include the following:

  • consideration of those activities which are associated with hydraulic fracturing, such as water acquisition, impact on groundwater use and the reuse, treatment and release of wastewater;
  • consideration of the impacts and risks of the development of the onshore unconventional gas industry, including exploration activities such as seismic surveys and aerial surveys, land access and costs and benefits of the industry, which may be undertaken through a social impact assessment or similar activity; and
  • recommendation of a process for identifying priority areas for no go zones and will consider the economic, cultural and social impacts and risks of the onshore unconventional gas industry more broadly.

The Government's response to the key issues raised in the draft Terms of Reference can be found on the Government's website.

Final Terms of Reference

The final Terms of Reference are that the Inquiry will:

  1. assess the scientific evidence to determine the nature and extent of the environmental impacts and risks, including the cumulative impacts and risks, associated with hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs and the Associated Activities 1in the Northern Territory;
  2. advise on the nature of any knowledge gaps and additional work or research that is required to make the determination in Item 1, including a program for how such work or research should be prioritised and implemented, that includes (but is not limited to);
    1. baseline surface water and groundwater studies,
    2. baseline fugitive emissions data,
    3. geological and fault line mapping, and
    4. focus areas for baseline health impact assessment,
  1. for every environmental risk and impact that is identified in Item 1, advise the level of environmental impact and risk that would be considered acceptable in the Northern Territory context;
  2. for every environmental risk and impact that is identified in Item 1,
    1. describe methods, standards or strategies that can be used to reduce the impact or risk; and
    2. advise whether such methods, standards or strategies can effectively and efficiently reduce the impact or risk to the levels described in Item 3;
  1. identify any scientific, technical, policy or regulatory requirements or resources that are in addition to the reforms being implemented through the existing environmental reform process that are necessary to reduce environmental risks and impacts associated with the hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs to acceptable levels; and
  2. identify priority areas for no go zones.

The Chair and the Panel for the fracking inquiry

The Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court will chair the Inquiry and oversee a panel of 10 scientists with expertise in disciplines such as water, geology, ecology, health, sociology and engineering:

  • Dr Alan Andersen (NT)
  • Peta Ashworth (QLD)
  • Dr Vaughan Beck (VIC)
  • Ms Jane Coram (ACT)
  • Professor Barry Hart (VIC)
  • Dr David Jones (QLD)
  • Professor Peter McCabe (SA)
  • Professor Brian Priestly (VIC/SA)
  • Dr Ross Smith (QLD)
  • Dr David Ritchie (NT)

Next steps for the independent fracking inquiry, and the NT moratorium

It is understood that the the inaugural meeting of the panel will be held on 8 December 2016 and the consultation schedule and proposed timeline of the Inquiry will be determined. The timeframe for the Inquiry and the stakeholder engagement program which the Panel is to develop and implement is to be advised prior to 1 January 2017.

Once the Inquiry has been completed, the Government will consider the findings and the future of fracking in the Northern Territory. Until then, the moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory will remain in place for the term of the Inquiry. The terms of the moratorium are:

  • hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional reservoirs will not be approved across in the Northern Territory until the Government has considered the outcomes of an independent inquiry;
  • it applies to the whole of the Northern Territory;
  • it applies to hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs, as well as the use of Diagnostic Fracture Injection Testing;
  • it applies to hydraulic fracturing under any permit or licence, which means that fracking will not be approved whether it is for exploration or extraction; and
  • it is not retrospective, which means that it does not apply to existing approvals.


1Associated Activities" means:

  1. the acquisition of ground or surface water for hydraulic fracturing;
  2. the mixing of water, chemicals and proppant to create hydraulic fracturing fluid;
  3. the return of injected fluid and water produced from the unconventional reservoir to the surface after hydraulic fracturing, and subsequent transport for reuse, treatment or disposal; and
  4. the reuse, treatment and release of wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing.


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. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions