Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Conservationists protest Kimberley gas plant

18 June 2007: Activists have converged on a drilling rig off the Western Australian coast to protest against plans to build a major gas plant. The protesters say a Japanese project will destroy one of the world's last wilderness areas.

Arriving in boats and seaplanes, the activists hung banners on a drilling rig at the Maret Islands, north-east of Broome...

Japanese company Inpex is using the rig to assess the area for a liquefied natural gas plant to service one of Australia's biggest reserves, the Browse Basin.

The conservationists and tour operators travelled hundreds of kilometres to highlight their concerns. Protester and conservationist Malcolm Douglas told the crowd the plant would destroy one of the world's last great wilderness areas.

"We've come to the Maret Islands to protest because we've got the beginning of industrialisation of the Kimberley," he said. "If they were doing this at Uluru, if they were doing this off the Great Barrier Reef, the whole of the east coast of Australia would know what's going on," he said.

Inpex labelled the protesters' claims as "scaremongering" in a statement. The islands are being assessed by the Japanese company Inpex for a processing plant to service the massive Browse Basin gas fields.

WA State Development Minister Ripper says strict environmental and other requirements would have to be met before the project would be given the go ahead.

The island's native title claimants earlier announced they were willing to negotiate a deal with the company. Kimberley Land Council's Wayne Bergmann says the proposed plant offers opportunities for the islands' native title claimants. "We think that if done properly it can have wide benefits for the region," he said.

The protesters argue that once it comes online, the gas will be used to power a string of other resource projects, destroying the wilderness coastline.

Lyndon Schneiders: 073 844 6499 || 0407 667 076 || cape.york@wilderness.org.au

Photo below from ABC

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