25 November 2015
Victory: NT Government rejects Watarrka National Park gas exploration: full protection still needed
Lock the Gate Alliance says the NT Government’s rejection last night of an application to explore for unconventional gas in Watarrka National Park in the red centre as a victory for common sense.
A delegation of Traditional Owners of the area, also known as Kings Canyon, visited Canberra yesterday to lobby the Federal Environment Minister to intervene to protect the cultural and tourism icon after years of opposition had not succeeded in securing protection from the NT Government.
Naomi Hogan, coordinator for Lock the Gate in the Northern Territory, said, “We are enormously relieved that pressure from the Traditional Owners and the Australian community has resulted in this common sense decision by the NT Government.
“Congratulation and thanks to the Traditional Owners and the Central Land Council who have been fighting to protect the park from this fracking licence for three years, and to the EDO community legal centre for their tireless defence of nature and support for the Watarrka Traditional Owners in bringing this application to the public’s attention.
“This win sets an important precedent: there are unique and ancient icons of cultural importance and national significance elsewhere in the Territory and the country that are under threat from unconventional gas. United community pressure works.
“Thank you to the thousands who yesterday pledged their support for the Traditional Owners of Watarrka. We have secured an important reprieve but still need to win permanent protection for Watarrka National Park from mining.
“Thanks to Senator Glen Lazarus for hosting the Watarrka Traditional Owners in Parliament yesterday, and his ongoing support for Australians facing invasive onshore gasfields.
“The two places where the NT Government yesterday announced exclusion zones, Watarrka National Park and Coomalie, are the sites of sustained and united opposition to gas fracking. Coomalie residents undertook a survey of all their neighbours, and found that over 96% of Coomalie residents wanted their neighbourhood gasfield free.
“Residents across the Territory can be buoyed by this victory for common sense and community action. Governments everywhere are forced to respond when communities stand united in opposition to dangerous and invasive fracking gasfields.
“The outstanding cultural and natural landscapes of the Northern Territory are too precious to overrun with invasive fracking gasfields. We know we can work together to protect it, now, and that’s what we will do.”
Over 90% of the Northern Territory is covered by gas exploration licences, or applications for fracking exploration.
Further comment: Naomi Hogan: 0401 650 411