Regional Councils back local communities in fight over fracking future

RGRC fracking motion

Roper Gulf Councillor Keith Rory and owner of Big River Station Daniel Tapp with the successful fracking motion. 

This week the Katherine and Roper Gulf Regional Councils took strong positions against fracking in their regions, with unanimous backing from both organisation’s elected representatives.

Katherine and Roper Gulf are the two largest regional councils covering communities across what the gas fracking industry calls the Beetaloo sub-Basin, stretching from Katherine down to Daly Waters and east to Borroloola on the QLD Border.

The Councils are concerned that their region’s strong tourism, farming and fishing trade and local water supplies would be damaged if gasfields were introduced overtop.

Both regions have experienced significant impacts to the health of regional water supplies from chemical PFAS contamination and legacy mining, and cited residents’ concerns that the fracking industry would bring unnecessary risks to local communities to support its position.

The motions were passed in response to the NT Fracking Inquiry’s draft final report which states more studies on the region’s land and waterways would need to be completed before it could determine the level of risk from fracking.

Katherine Town Council Alderman Jon Raynor moved the motion at Tuesday’s meeting and was pleased to see it had the unanimous backing from fellow Aldermen:

“Katherine residents have been consistent and clear that they want local government to stand up and protect the region’s land, water and local industries like farming and tourism from reckless fracking. With this motion, we have sought to do that. Now we put it to the Territory Government to follow suit and implement a permanent ban on fracking. We can’t afford to take a drill and see approach with our water.”

Roper Gulf Regional Councillor Keith Rory from Borroloola said his community had conducted a doorknock survey of its own residents last year and found 96.8% opposed fracking. A similar community survey in Mataranka conducted in 2016 found 96.2% of residents wanted the region kept gasfield-free.

Councillor Rory moved the Roper Gulf Regional Council motion, which states:

Elected members of the Roper Gulf Shire Council have heard the concerns expressed by our constituents, including a significant majority of our region’s tourism and farming businesses, pastoral lease holders and local communities regarding the risks of fracking gasfields.

The NT Fracking Inquiry has stated it does not have enough information about our region’s land and waterways to understand how fracking could impact.

The Roper Gulf Regional Council does not support lifting the moratorium on onshore shale gas fracking, and in doing so writes to the Chief Minister and relevant Ministers to formally convey our position.

Both local government organisations are now awaiting a response from the Northern Territory Government.

Last month Alice Springs Town Council also passed a unanimous motion for the fracking moratorium not to be lifted.

Alderman Jon Raynor with the KTC Motion for a Fracking Ban

Katherine Town Council Alderman Jon Raynor with the successful motion.