Bligh bans Whitsundays shale oil mining
Anna Bligh says she will not allow the environment to be put at risk. (AAP Image : Rob Hutchison)The Queensland Government has announced the Whitsundays region will be off limits to all shale oil mining.The decision puts a stop to plans to dig up about 400,000 tonnes of rock for testing at the McFarlane deposit about 15 kilometres south of Proserpine.Shale oil extraction and production is known to generate high amounts of greenhouse gas.Premier Anna Bligh says she will not allow the environment to be put at risk while the technology for extraction is still not proven.There will be a 20-year moratorium on all mining activities, bulk sampling and exploration at the McFarlane deposit.Only one lease exists to mine shale oil in Gladstone and the Premier says no new shale oil mines will be permitted anywhere in the state.Conservationist Suzette Plet said it was feared the project would harm the reef, local tourism and local community. She has welcomed the decision as "fantastic news".But the Queensland Resources Council’s Michael Roche says the decision has more to do with the conservation of the marginal seat of Whitsunday than environmental protection.The State member for Whitsunday, Jan Jarrett, have dismissed claims the decision is part of a bid to keep her marginal seat in Labor hands."This transcends local politics, this is really I think an issue of national and even international [importance]," she said."It sits alongside the moratorium on uranium mining and oil drilling on the reef; it’s that level of concern that the community across the nation I think would share."