Farmers fear issues with fracking

IT IS an environmental issue set to pit locals and groups against big businesses, with state and national politicians saying it can provide a huge boost to the economy.

No it isn't the forest wars again, it is the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas occurring in Tasmania.

Fracking is the process used to fracture a rock by a high pressure solution to improve the flow of gas from underground formations.

While the Liberal Government put a 12-month ban on the controversial mining process, it does not extend to existing licences. 

Despite the volume of shale gas in Tasmania being unknown, resources company PetraGas was recently granted a five-year exploration licence by the previous Labor government. The licenced area encompassing 3900 square kilometres in the state's Central Highlands and Southern Midlands.

This joins two other granted licences in Northern Tasmania and one set to be applied for in the state's South.

The licences have been opposed by local farmers such as Brett Hall, who are worried about some of the problems that plague coal seam gas fracking in the US occurring in Tasmania. 

``People don't know the longer term implications of this type of mining because it's only relative new,'' he said.

``So we have to base what we think about it on what we have seen in America and certainly they have had a lot of issues with livestock deaths, abortions in their cattle, and a lot of other animal deaths from the waste water which has leaked out of septic ponds or has been dumped or spillages on the way to it being treated,'' he said.

PetraGas' licence will involve a desktop review of existing data and low impact surface surveys for the first two years, which may actually involve fracking to find any potential yields. If quantities are found the next step will be drilling wells and extracting the resources. 

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