Government puts controversial Ningaloo proposal on hold
Subsea 7 plans lodged with the EPA last year sought to build the pipelines in an onshore facility east of Minilya-Exmouth Road and tow them through the gulf and Ningaloo Marine Park for use at offshore oil rigs on the reef’s doorstep.
Environment groups were concerned the company’s tugs would churn the shallows and drag ballast chains over the seabed, impacting an area equivalent to 1000 football ovals located right next to humpback whale nursery areas and biodiversity hotspots.
Protect Ningaloo director Paul Gamblin, who has been actively campaigning against the industrialisation of the Gulf for several years, said postponing the decision was better than imminent construction but it left the community facing face further uncertainty.
“We think the case to stop the controversial Subsea 7 oil and gas pipeline facility dead in its tracks is clear,” Mr Gamblin said.
“We believe this new broad EPA assessment will reiterate previous scientific work and confirm Exmouth Gulf’s global importance and that its future lies in tourism, research and education, and not heavy industry.
“The government’s recognition today of Exmouth Gulf’s natural values and the threats posed by
development is vindication of the grassroots community campaign to protect Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo from industrialisation.”
Mr Dawson said the EPA assessment had been prompted by recent proposals such as the Gascoyne Gateway cruise and multi-use marine facility and K+S Salt proposal near Exmouth.
“Understanding any potential impacts that future developments may have on Exmouth Gulf will enable me to make an informed decision about these future proposals,” he said.
The EPA is expected to give advice to the minister on the Exmouth Gulf by the end of June 2021.
A Subsea 7 spokeswoman said the company would continue to work closely with the state government as it moved through the process of obtaining EPA approval.
“We always understood from the outset that we needed to have flexibility in our schedule,” she said.
“This does not change our proposal.”
Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.