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South West fracking fears put to rest

FEARS that fracking could be carried out in Bunbury and the South West have been put to rest after it was found the area was not suitable for the process.
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The Department of Mines and Petroleum received confirmation this week that there are no plans to undertake hydraulic fracturing within a petroleum application area located south and east of the City of Bunbury.

Bunbury Energy Pty Ltd, previously known as Unconventional Resources Pty Ltd, confirmed its proposed plans for the area comprising 11 blocks which incorporates the shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup, parts of the City of Bunbury and slightly overlaps an area in the City of Busselton.

Petroleum Division executive director Jeff Haworth said the geology of the area was not suitable to support the hydraulic fracturing process and there was currently no indication of any good quality shales in the area.

Mr Haworth said previous attempts at Whicher Range highlighted the problem, which was further supported by the Whicher Range Tight Gas Sands Study 2012 report.

He said hydraulic fracturing would actually inhibit the extraction of any gas.

When the potential for fracking made headlinesin July,Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said it was “offensive” for the state government to downplay potential fracking in the region while lining up permits for exploration and she was sure it would receive immediate backlash from the community.

But Bunbury Wellington Economic Alliance chief executive Matt Granger said it wasimportant to recognise that the mining, minerals processing and energy industries had operated in the South West for decades and could provide an important economic boost to the region.

The company has not been granted an exploration permit and is still progressing with native title negotiations.

“We have also been advised by the company that it does not intend to access private land or sensitive areas and that the survey would be conducted along roadsides and other accessible areas,” Mr Haworth said.

“They would also need to seek the appropriate local government approvals to undertake those activities.”

DMP has requested that the company provide a detailed stakeholder engagement plan before the end of November 2015.

Mr Haworth said no exploration activity could begin until the company had been granted an exploration permit and all relevant approvals had been provided.

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