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Farmers want fraccing veto rights
The West Australian

WA farmers will campaign for the power to veto hydraulic fracturing on agricultural land in the countdown to the State election.

The veto demand is part of push by farmers for a greater say in decision-making on resource exploration and development.

Peak industry group WAFarmers will lobby all major parties for the introduction of an "agricultural impact assessment" process for mining and oil and gas projects.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said yesterday that the agricultural impact assessments could be carried out by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Mr Park said it was important to have proper safeguards in place for the controversial gas exploration technique known as fraccing.

He said there was widespread concern among farmers about the potential size of fraccing operations and their impact on underground water.

Farmers in the Mid West have been told there could be more than 2500 wells and one every square kilometre based on recent assessments of shale gas reserves in the Canning Basin. "What is going to be the impact on farming if we have a well every square kilometre, what will be the overall impact and how are we going to mitigate that impact? These issues need to be addressed," Mr Park said.

WAFarmers want amendments to the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act and the Petroleum Pipelines Act to give farmers the same powers of veto that apply under the Mining Act.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association's Stedman Ellis said the petroleum industry in WA was already subject to strict environmental laws.

"Exploration companies are committed to fair negotiation and work assiduously to reach mutually beneficial agreements," he said. "Fraccing has been safely used in WA and around the world for decades."

He said natural gas companies and Queensland farmers had more than 3000 agreements in place.

Petroleum Minister Norman Moore has rejected a WAFarmers call for an impact study on fraccing, saying existing rules require companies to disclose the chemicals they put into the ground.