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NT fracking report delayed

13 November 2017 , , ,

The final report of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory has been pushed back to March 2018.

This is to ensure the completion and public release of the work by Coffey and, most importantly, to allow adequate time for the public, industry and the government to read and digest the draft Final Report and Coffey’s social impact assessment, prior to the final round of consultations commencing at the conclusion of school holidays at the end of January 2018.

Inquiry Chair, the Hon Justice Rachel Pepper, said that the subsequent revision of the social impact assessment consultation process meant that the Inquiry had no option but to adjust its timeframe for completion of the draft Final Report and the Final Report.

“The Inquiry had anticipated a November release of the draft Final Report, but regretfully this is not possible in light of the measures required to be undertaken to ensure that the social impact assessment work is satisfactorily completed by Coffey,” said Justice Pepper.

“Coffey has indicated the IAS consultation will be completed in December, which means that Coffey will be in a position to complete its report for the Inquiry by early to mid-January 2018.

“While Coffey’s social impact assessment cannot, as desired, be completed in time for its inclusion in the Inquiry’s draft Final Report, its work will be completed and released to the public prior to the final round of consultations in January 2018.”

The Inquiry will publish its draft Final Report by mid-December, with the completed Coffey report being released early to mid-January 2018.

Industry response

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Northern Territory Director Matthew Doman said the gas industry was surprised and disappointed by the announcement that the Pepper Inquiry’s final report would not be completed until March.

“What was supposed to be a 12-month inquiry is now entering its second year,” said Mr Doman.

“The final report was promised by the end of this year, we now won’t see it until at least March next year.

“Even if the fracking moratorium is lifted after that, it is very hard to see any significant investment occurring in 2018.

“That means another year of lost opportunity for traditional owners and local businesses who stand to benefit as soon as this unnecessary moratorium ends.

“These further delays are damaging to the NT’s economic interests.”