Premier’s announcement of LNG site challenged
In a statement on December 4th, WA Premier Colin Barnett said an area just south of James Price Point has been identified as the exact location for the proposed Browse LNG precinct.
Image courtesy of Woodside Petroleum
Premier Colin Barnett said the site was selected following extensive consultation with Traditional Owners and consideration of heritage, technical and environmental data.
He said final selection had centred on two potential locations for LNG processing and related port facilities - one just north and one just to the south of James Price Point. The southern site had been chosen for a number of reasons including management of impacts on registered Aboriginal heritage sites.
But a number of Traditional Owners, as part of the Save The Kimberley organisation, issued a statement which said there is not unanimous support for this site.
In a signed declaration, Traditional Owners have affirmed that they do not support the imposition of an industrial site on their country and will legally challenge the authenticity of any agreements entered into by the Kimberley Land Council supporting the proposal.
The statement said that “…many local Indigenous people are disgusted by the apparent abandonment of the established process put in place by the previous State government. Concerns include the threats made earlier in the year by the Premier regarding compulsory acquisition of land and the pre-empting of the Joint State and Commonwealth environmental and cultural assessment process via announcements by Woodside and the Premier.”
Local Indigenous Traditional Owner and tourism operator Neil McKenzie said, "This is my traditional Country, this land is too important to be put at risk. There are clear alternatives for processing of Browse gas - there is no need to start from scratch with a Kimberley site.
"We should not have to give up land for polluting industry just to access the education, medical and other services available to all Australians.
According to Colin Barnett, “This is another important step forward for a project that will bring major benefits for Aboriginal people, the Kimberley and Western Australia.”
McKenzie said, "When I read the statements made…by Premier Barnett I really have to question how serious the Government and Woodside are about protecting our culture and environment as the statements make a mockery of the yet to be completed environmental assessment and Indigenous Land Use Agreement processes.”
The State Government, the Kimberley Land Council, representing Traditional Owners, and Woodside Energy Ltd have entered into a Heritage Protection Agreement for the precinct.
The Premier said the proposed design for the precinct would ensure its economic efficiency while reducing impacts on registered Aboriginal heritage sites and monsoonal vine thickets and make the site less visible from the ocean.
When operating at full capacity, with two processors, the total land area of the precinct, to which public access would be restricted, would be about 2,000 to 2,500 hectares - just 0.2 per cent of the 1,400,000 hectare Dampier Peninsula.
“The Traditional Owners have made it very clear they want to protect their heritage, culture and the environment and are rightly worried about the impact of an LNG precinct on their traditional land,” he said.
The Premier said negotiations were on track to finalise an Indigenous Land Use Agreement by early 2010 and for finalisation of the Strategic Assessment Report documentation for presentation to State and Federal environmental regulatory authorities.