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Report prepared for environment minister says "no conclusive proof" of emissions threat to rock art

Giovanni Torre -

A report prepared for federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek found no conclusive proof that industrial emissions are harming the ancient petroglyphs in and around Western Australia's Burrup Peninsula.

The report stopped short of calling for a halt on the new projects being ­developed in the area, but did find there was sufficient evidence to support that significant Aboriginal areas were under threat of injury or desecration, identifying several lots of unallocated crown land zoned for future industrial use where ­future industrial development should be barred.

Activists including environmentalists and Indigenous advocates, and other campaigners including former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley, WA Premier Carmen Lawrence, and other prominent political figures have been urging Ms Plibersek to block Woodside's plans for LNG operations in the area.

Woodside Energy is looking to double output from its Pluto LNG plant and extend the life of its North West Shelf LNG facility out to 2070.

The Australian reports that the consultant appointed by the federal government to investigate the situation on the Burrup, Alison Stone, recommended Woodside be barred from disturbing any of the cultural heritage sites in its existing leased areas, despite the company having previously secured the authority to do so under WA's controversial Section 18 mechanism.

Ms Stone also recommends Ms Plibersek order fertiliser developer Perdaman to drop its plans for a causeway across the site of the urea plant it is currently building and to redesign a laydown area being used to store equipment and material for the plant's construction.

The substantial and significant rock art of the region is key to the federal government's efforts to secure a World Heritage listing for the area.

Opponents of the heavy industry in the region have long warned that emissions were accelerating the erosion of the estimated one million carvings across the Burrup peninsula.

The Australian reports that Ms Stone's report found there was "not sufficient evidence to support the claim the specified area is under threat from industrial emissions and chemical discharge".

The Australian Conservation Foundation recently released research finding that the Karratha Gas Plant extension plan will generate six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and be the largest new fossil fuel project in the southern hemisphere, exacerbating human-generated climate change.

A Woodside spokesperson told The Australian that the company would review the report in the coming days.

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