Stop industrialisation of the Kimberley

The full Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation has passed a motion opposing the building of a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing facility at James Price Point, 60 kilometres north of Broome, or elsewhere in the Kimberley.

After lengthy discussion, including meetings with the Kimberley Land Council and Traditional Owners in Broome, ACF has formed the view that a large LNG processing facility on the Kimberley coastline would pose unacceptable risks to a region with numerous outstanding natural values.

James Price Point, the surrounding region and the Kimberley as a whole is home to many threatened species.

Last week the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments made the renewal of retention leases held by the Browse joint venturers partners conditional on their acceptance by 31 December 2009 of an enforced deadline on the new lease and acceptance within 120 days of James Price Point as the only site for a LNG hub.

“For governments to try to force business partners to commit to James Price Point and the Kimberley before environmental studies have been finalised seriously compromises the decision making process,” said ACF executive director Don Henry.

“The natural and cultural values of the Kimberley are simply too great for major industrialisation and all the impacts that will flow from it for the Kimberley region. ACF is concerned this could be the thin end of the wedge for further industrialisation of the Kimberley, including bauxite and uranium mining.

“We remain respectful of the work of Kimberley Land Council and the Traditional Owners and very much appreciate our ongoing consultations with them.

“Governments should redouble their efforts to help Traditional Owners tackle social disadvantage in the Kimberley and protect the outstanding environmental and cultural values of the area, with the consent of the Traditional Owners.

“And there should be a renewed effort to find appropriate alternative sites for processing the gas outside the Kimberley,” Mr Henry said.