Fracking demonstrators rally at Minister Eva Lawler’s office
A CROWD of anti-fracking protesters rallied outside the Environment Minister's office on Thursday to protest her signing off on a Beetaloo Basin agreement over Christmas.
About 30 angry protesters, including traditional owners from Marlinja, gathered outside Ms Lawler's electorate office in Palmerston at 4.30pm on Thursday.
Protect Country Alliance NT spokesman Dan Robins said they wanted to raise concerns about Ms Lawler signed off on Origin's environmental management plans on December 23.
"Two days before Christmas the Environment Minister signed off on Origin to frack," he said.
"I think the timing was deliberate to avoid any questions from the community on this approval."
Ms Lawler said she signed off on the agreement when she did due to time restraints.
"There is a statutory requirement that I must grant or refuse an environmental approval within 90 days and all statement of reasons are put online to ensure that there is transparency and accountability," she said,
Mr Robins said traditional owners were also concerned about news that Origin had recently encountered issues while drilling.
"It's not a promising to see they are already experiencing issues at this early stage," he said.
Origin's joint venture business partner Falcon Oil and Gas released a statement this week admitting "operational challenges" for horizontal drilling at the well.
"The partially drilled borehole (8 and a half inches wide) simply didn't meet our specifications to complete the job," a spokesman from the Origin Beetaloo Exploration Project said.
"There was no fracking and no risk to the vertical well, groundwater or environment protections."