The big question - 14 January 2014

We wanted a simple, direct question to put to government - one that couldn’t be sidestepped with confusing spin-doctoring. It’s not just about getting technical information from the various departments about fracking. It is rather to test how open they are to show the public their cards. It is about access to information more than just fracking.

Our first stab at the question:

  • where will the first fracking well be drilled?

which leads into another thought:

  • how much water will be needed and where will it come from?

But a quick call to the Centre for Environmental Rights’ Melissa Fourie puts paid to this line of attack.

‘They’ll sidestep this one easily,’ (I’m paraphrasing here), ‘because they haven’t issued licences to drill exploratory wells yet. They’ll just say ”we don’t know until the licences are out”.’

The 2013 moratorium on issuing of exploratory fracking licences has been lifted, and the draft policy on mining is out for public comment - but until the first licences are issued, and the policy cemented in a gazette, too much is up in the air.

How about asking them something about pollution? So, thanks to Melissa, this is what we’re going for:

  • what measures are in place to test whether fracking fluid has leaked from an exploration well, into the surrounding groundwater?
  • should such a spill occur, how will this contamination, and associated safety procedures, be communicated to the affected communities?

Jess Wilson, head of EMG’s climate and water team, reckons it was a good call. Head honcho Stephen gives the all clear. We’re a ‘go’ on Mission Untold Stories Part Four.