Potential hidden environmental cost of Government’s irrigation vision

Thursday 31 July 2014           

Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC said he tentatively supports the government’s ‘Irrigation Vision’ for the West Kimberley but would like to see more research into the environmental consequences of the scheme.

Stage one of the program will see more than $15 million invested in irrigation infrastructure east of Derby including almost $5 million at Mowanjum Station to grow irrigated fodder crops in support of the community’s pastoral aspirations.

But Mr Chapple said he was concerned high-intensity irrigation projects would have significant and detrimental flow-on effects for the Kimberley’s water cycle.

“The claim that wet season floods are ‘wasted’ is a total myth,” he said.

“Pumping water from the river valley floodplains may endanger the deep refuge pools that rely on floodplain groundwater to survive the dry season.

“These pools are critical for species such as Barramundi, Black Bream and freshwater prawns, allowing them to complete their life cycles and harbour juveniles.

“Harvesting what appears to be excess water in the Kimberley for agricultural production could ultimately be a trade-off with the health of the Kimberley’s river and groundwater systems.”

These views have been echoed in a new Kimberley based study by the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research hub (TRaCK).

Mr Chapple said he would like to see more in-depth research done into the environmental impact of the proposed irrigation schemes but is not entirely opposed to the idea.

“This project could be great for supporting the independence of Mowanjum Aboriginal Corporation and other remote communities and traditional land-owners,” he said.

“But, any financial benefit to these communities must be matched by a commitment to protect the significant biodiversity and astounding natural beauty of their lands.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

Environment Minister refuses to assess fracking in the Kimberley

Greens Member of Parliament, Robin Chapple MLC, said he is absolutely astounded at the Environment Minister Albert Jacob’s refusal to assess a proposal to undertake tests for tight gas flows using hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Kimberley.

“In refusing my appeal against the decision not to assess the Laurel Formation Tight Gas Pilot Exploration Program in the Kimberley Region, the Minister has claimed this small scale project would be used to ‘inform the environmental impact assessment of proposals progressing to commercial scale production, including the likely cumulative impacts from foreseeable future projects’.

‘This sounds to me like the Environment Minster has already given his own personal go ahead on all future fracking projects and calls into question his credibility as the WA Environment Minister and the EPA appeals process,’ said Mr Chapple.

“Plenty of studies have shown there are major environmental and health issues associated with fracking and the public are against it.

“I cannot fathom how the Environment Minister is not concerned about the contamination of groundwater and surface water, and the impacts on air quality and biodiversity for the people in the Kimberley Region.

“The Minister claims in his decision not to assess, ‘he considered the values of the environment and the extent of likely impacts’ and has confidence in the Department of Mines (DMP) to evaluate, regulate and mitigate future fracking projects.

“I am left speechless! This leaves the DMP in charge of the whole process where environmental conditions are commercially in-confidence, lacking any transparency.

The Greens oppose fracking in the Kimberley given its potential to harm the environment, water sources, community and cultural values of the region, Mr Chapple said.

The Minister advised a total of 48 appeals were investigated by the Appeals Convener, all of which were rejected.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

Barnett – Redman hell bent on destroying the West Kimberley

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The State Government through the royalties for regions program has just announced funding for the Areva Resources Uranium company exploration program throughout the Canning Basin in the West Kimberley.

Not content in opening up the Canning Basin to the fracking industry, the Government now seeks to complete the destruction of the region by supporting uranium mining in the Derby- Broome region.

“This is a cynical payback, by Barnett and Redman, for the Kimberley for having rejected his James Price Point pipe dream” said Mr Chapple, Greens spokesperson for Mining.

Uranium prices are at a recent all-time low, so why are the Nationals and Barnett propping up this dying industry?

Minister Redman needs to explain why in this time of fiscal restraint why he is wasting limited taxpayers money on this forlorn industry?

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255


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