Source: The Advertiser
Victor Harbor locals want a public meeting for Equinor to address concerns about its plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. The company says it’s already exceeded the consultation that’s required.
EQUINOR should front a public meeting in Victor Harbor to spell out its oil drilling plans for the Great Australian Bight and address concerns about environmental impacts, locals say.
Equinor should front a public meeting in Victor Harbor to spell out its oil drilling plans for the Great Australian Bight and address concerns about environmental impacts, locals say.
The company met with Business Victor Harbor and local councillors on Tuesday about its project, which is expected to begin in 2020/21 if it receives approval.
About 25 people attended the informal meeting, which was not open to the public.
Wilderness Society SA director Peter Owen said about 100 locals held a “vigil” at the foreshore to reiterate their calls for a public meeting.
He said the company was yet to consult with many of the coastal councils, traditional owners and environmental groups that had raised concerns.
“More than 10,000 people have protested against Equinor’s plans at beaches all around Australia in the past few months,” Mr Owen said.
South Coast local Tam Dandridge, who helps run Kingo Surf School with partner and business owner Chris Kingston, said she had contacted Equinor requesting a town hall-style meeting, but to no avail.
Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins said many local residents had concerns about issues including potential spills and other mining companies moving into the area if Equinor discovered oil.
“I would like Equinor to come and talk to the community,” Dr Jenkins said.
Business Victor Harbor president Nick Gormley said his organisation invited Equinor to speak to members to hear “the full story” about its plans. He said the company outlined measures in place to prevent an environmental disaster.
Some people who were “dead against” oil drilling in The Bight left Tuesday meeting with a different perspective.
Victor Harbor Mayor Moira Jenkins. Picture: Tom Huntley
Equinor country manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland.
Equinor’s Jone Stangeland said the company had exceeded the consultation required by regulations.
“Over the past two years, we have attended more than 130 meetings,” Mr Stangeland said. “Everyone wants assurances that this can be done safely, and many are also interested in the potential economic benefits that would come from a commercial discovery in the Great Australian Bight.
“We will only carry out a drilling operation in The Bight if we can do it safely.”
Meanwhile, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will on Thursday introduce to the Senate a Bill to stop drilling in The Bight.
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