Barrow Island nature reserve is not an industrial sacrifice zone: Greens

March 26, 2003 - The Greens (WA) have warned the State Government that the fossil fuel industry will face stiff opposition to any moves to turn the Barrow Island Class A nature reserve into an industrial strip.

Submissions on the Gorgon Gas development closed on Monday, and Robin Chapple MLC has made a strong case for the preservation of the unique ecological values of Barrow Island.

'This is shaping up as a key test of the Government's sustainability credentials,' Mr Chapple said this morning. 'The Government is insisting that Gorgon and Sasol Chevron are the only proponents who will be allowed access to the Barrow Island nature reserve. I find that very hard to believe.'

Reports of the Jansz gasfield discovery have all indicated that the industry considers Barrow Island a fait accompli, with the Australian reporting on March 25, 2003: 'Adding to the attraction of Jansz is that any processing infrastructure needed for a new project could be based on Barrow Island, where ChevronTexaco already has oil and gas facilities.'

Most galling for the conservation movement has been the attempt by Gorgon to pitch the proposal as a 'sustainable development.' In his submission, Mr Chapple writes:

We remind the DIR and EPA that this is a proposal by foreign-owned fossil fuel companies to permanently extract a non-renewable resource from an 'A' Class nature reserve while injecting millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. In our opinion, the proponents have been unable to convincingly re-frame this project as somehow 'sustainable'.

'It is imperative that the Government comes clean on its plans for Barrow Island. I do not accept that the Gorgon partners should be allowed anywhere near the island, particularly as the rest of the industry is clearly seeing this as a foot in the door.'

'The Greens (WA) will be investigating all avenues to make sure this proposal is moved to a sensible location,' Mr Chapple said.

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