Farmer wants residents educated about fracking

Asparagus farmer Harrie Smeets is very concerned about the possibility of fracking.
Asparagus farmer Harrie Smeets is very concerned about the possibility of fracking.

BICKLEY Valley asparagus farmer Harrie Smeets is concerned about the potential risks to his business from fracking.

He is encouraging Hills residents to find out more about the practice at community meetings run by anti-fracking group Frack Free Future in Kalamunda and Mundaring next month.

Southern Sky Energy and Macallum Group hold a gas exploration permit for areas within the City of Swan and shires of Gingin and Chittering. However, the Department of Mines and Petroleum announced last September that they were prevented from accessing some areas of the Swan Valley.

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Mr Smeets said he was worried the permits could lead to the companies being allowed to drill through the Yarragadee north and south aquifers, which supply household drinking water to the Perth metro region.

“How can pumping chemicals through the water table be safe?” he said.

“If our groundwater is affected, we can forget about our organic growing.

“Here, we use bore water as we’re not on scheme, so we rely a lot on that being pure, not just for drinking water but also for our business operations.”

Mr Smeets and his wife Petra also offer accommodation on their property.

“This area is fast becoming a tourist spot – we don’t need fracking happening here and, if they are thinking about fracking in Swan Valley – what’s to stop them here?” he said.

Frack Free Future co-ordinator Jules Kirby said fracking could contaminate drinking water supplies.

“We already have more gas than we need in WA, which is why companies that risk polluting our mid-west food bowl and water tables do so at almost no benefit for the people of this state. It’s a case of all pain, no gain,” he said.

“We all get our water from the same aquifers that are at risk here – if fracking companies contaminate those, we’ll all pay the price.”

Macallum Group spokesman Rance Dorrington said they were still in the very early stages of exploration in the area and the primary targets of further exploration were those that had potential for oil or gas recovery by conventional means.

In a 2015 public notice regarding the permit, he said if hydrocarbons were successfully identified “there should be no requirement for any process requiring the use of hydraulic fracturing to expedite the flow of oil or gas”.

He said they would continue to advise potentially affected parties affected of their intentions before ground-based exploration works were undertaken, and listen and respond to any feedback.

Southern Sky Energy could not be reached for comment.

The Shire of Mundaring and City of Swan councils have each voted not to support fracking in their boundaries.

The method is banned in Victoria, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory have issued moratoriums.

Meetings will be held at Zig Zag Cultural Centre in Kalamunda on February 9 from 6pm to 8.30pm and at Mundaring Hall on February 10 from 7pm to 8.30pm.