Fracking tribunal validity debated
THE results of an international environmental report into fracking has been hotly debated between a Chinchilla activist and a gas industry group.
Chinchilla resident Shay Dougall has spent years of her life fighting the unconventional gas industry, and claims the findings from the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change as a major win for her cause.
Mrs Dougall joined the international tribunal as an Australian convenor four years ago, helping the group research the human rights impacts of the UCG industry.
The Chinchilla woman has helped the non-government Rome-based organisation examined the impacts of hydraulic fracturing and unconventional gas on people and the environment.
Twelve months later, the tribunal handed down their report, calling for a worldwide ban on fracking and claiming the unconventional oil and gas extraction industry had "violated the rights of humans and nature".
However, the validity of the tribunal's findings has been called into question by industry group Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
An APPEA spokesman said the tribunal was "not a credible forum, rather a front for biased activism against resource development."
"There is no judicial merit and it mocks the accepted legal and scientific approach to these matters," the spokesman said.
"Its process did not allow industry representation or credible, independent scientific evidence.
"Numerous scientific inquiries in Australia have and continue to find that the onshore natural gas industry, including hydraulic fracturing, is a safe and sustainable practice, with no negative impacts that can't be managed by appropriate regulation, which Queensland has had in place for decades.
"The Queensland natural gas industry operates under - and adheres to - those regulations and enjoys a close working relationship with the vast majority of local stakeholders. This is evidenced by the fact that to date the industry has signed 5000 voluntary land access agreements with local landholders.
"Social and community impacts are given significant weighting by government when project approvals are being considered."
Fracking has been hotly debated for decades, and Mrs Dougall believes the results of the tribunal, which claim, "the materials, and infrastructure of fracking inherently and necessarily violate human rights" is validation for her fight.
"Out of 17 government inquiries that have been held on this issue, that continuously failed to acknowledge the human rights aspect," Mrs Dougall said.
"We've been justified, this is a real issue that must be addressed by the government when it addresses the economics."
The timing of the report is uncanny, coming just months after the Queensland Government passed the Human Rights Bill.
Mrs Dougall said with the new Act, the tribunal report is a tool for landholders to use when negotiating with resource companies for compensation, because it acknowledges impacts currently not considered in those discussions.
Meanwhile, Mrs Dougall and others are investigating how the tribunal's report could be used in a legal capacity.