Barrow Island Advice Welcomed: Greens

July 1, 2003 - Greens (WA) spokesperson on industrial development Robin Chapple MLC has welcomed reports by the EPA and Conservation Commission, which firmly reject any further development on Barrow Island.

The EPA Section 16 Bulletin released this morning, contains some of the strongest opposition to a major industrial project in the EPA's history.

'Given the very high environmental and unique conservation values of Barrow Island, which are reflected in its status as a class A Nature Reserve, it is the view of the EPA that, as a matter of principle, industry should not be located on a nature reserve and specifically not on Barrow Island.'

The report by the Conservation Commission, under which the Barrow Island A Class Nature Reserve is vested, is equally unequivocal:

'It is in this context that decisions to be made with respect to granting access to the nature reserve for the Gorgon gas development should be seen. Given the risks to the biodiversity conservation values of Barrow Island Nature Reserve, to grant even in principle approval should only be contemplated on the basis of an overwhelming case that development must occur at this location and time. The Commission believes that such a case has not been made.

The Commission's advice is that Government should not approve the location, construction and operation of any gas processing plant on Barrow Island Nature Reserve.

Mr Chapple said the advice was a tremendous relief, and sent a strong signal to the proponents of the proposed development that the unique environment of Barrow Island was not compatible with the damaging impacts of the oil and gas industry.

'We must remember that this is only advice,' Mr Chapple said this morning. 'The Government can choose to ignore this advice, as it has done in the past. The public now has an important role in ensuring that this does not happen, by making submissions supporting the findings of the EPA and the Conservation Commission and keeping an eye on how the Government chooses to react.'

The advice would come as a disappointment to ChevronTexaco, who had been so certain of rubber-stamp approval that they had already begun letting contracts worth millions of dollars. It also sent a signal to other proponents that WA's environmental assessment process was finally getting some teeth, Mr Chapple said.

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