Pinnacles declared a no go zone

No exploration will occur over the Pinnacles after adjustment to Exploration Permit.
Date: Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Pinnacles and other desert areas have been removed from an exploration permit recently granted to Westranch Holdings. 

The Department of Mines and Petroleum has excluded access to the Pinnacles and desert areas in response to a request by Westranch Holdings Pty Ltd to amend its Mid West Exploration Permit.

DMP Executive Director Petroleum Jeff Haworth said Westranch, wholly owned by Norwest Energy, had voluntarily requested the variation of the terms and conditions to EP 492 as the area was not prospective and it had no intention to propose any future activity within the significant area.

“The department has, at the company’s request, adjusted the permit to exclude entry for the purpose of exploration to the desert areas, including the Red, Painted, Little Painted and Pinnacle deserts,” he said.

“This is the first time the department has had a company apply for such amendments, to date the State’s rigorous approvals process and specific provisions under the Petroleum Act have been used to ensure sensitive areas and communities are not impacted by exploration activities.

“While it would have been highly unlikely that access for exploration activity within the Pinnacles area would be granted under the current regulatory framework, the new conditions will provide greater clarity for everyone.

“DMP expects companies to engage with communities about their projects, so we were pleased the company made this request, which demonstrates it is serious about social responsibility.”

Historically, petroleum tenements are released in rectangular blocks which may extend across town sites and environmentally or culturally sensitive areas.

Granting of the permit does not provide automatic right of entry and every activity proposed within the defined area is subject to an application and approvals process.

Western Australia’s regulatory framework and rigorous approvals process incorporates multi-agency assessment against provisions across several Acts before approval is granted and any activity can begin.

Mr Haworth said the department was reviewing its current processes for petroleum acreage release.

“The department recognises the diversity and value of Western Australia’s environment and the need to continuously improve regulatory standards and processes to ensure it is in step with new scientific and technological advances, as well as changing social considerations.” he said.