• Anti-Fracking protest in Melbourne (Supplied)
The Northern Territory government has lifted a ban on fracking despite fierce opposition from climate scientists, traditional owners and Indigenous activists.
By
Staff writers

17 Apr 2018 - 10:46 AM  UPDATED 17 Apr 2018 - 4:30 PM

Aboriginal groups have reacted in anger to this morning's announcement of a new fracking regulatory regime allowing fracking across 51 per cent of the Northern Territory.

The first exploratory fracking by petroleum companies is expected to occur early next year.

The issue has sharply divided Territorians, many of whom believe fracking threatens water supplies, but Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Tuesday the industry will create jobs and insists regulations will be strict.

The Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network slammed the decision, which they have been campaigning against for months.

“The Gunner Government has betrayed the people of the Northern Territory and Aboriginal communities by allowing fracking companies to poison our water, land and climate," Seed National Director Amelia Telford said. 

“What this decision shows us is that the NT Government are willing to risk the health, climate and culture of Aboriginal communities and Territorians who are the most threatened by fracking. There is not one place in the world where fracking hasn’t ended badly." 

An independent report handed down by Justice Rachel Pepper last month found the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing of gas deposits could be managed and regulated.

Mr Gunner said the government had accepted the inquiry's advice about no-go zones.

"Forty-nine per cent of the Territory will be 'frack-free', including in national parks, conservation areas, Indigenous protected areas, towns, residential and strategic assets, and areas of high cultural, environmental or tourism value," he said.

In the rest of the NT, strict laws and regulations would protect areas and the independent EPA and Environment Minister would sign off on any fracking.

Environmental groups and scientists have pressured the Labor government to keep the fracking moratorium it introduced, arguing it would adversely impact on water, land and public health.

However the federal government has similarly pressured the NT government to allow the economic exploitation of its gas resources.

"We will protect NT" 

Seed says its fight is far from over, and is calling on the rest of the country to stand with NT communities.

"The communities up there in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people, young people, are fighting as hard as ever and it's really important that we take this campaign to a national stage and that we stand with those that are calling for a ban," Ms Telford said. 

"Because they are the ones who will be most impacted if fracking was to go ahead." 

Social media is already lighting up with photos of people posing with the hashtag "We will protect NT" written on their hand in a show of solidarity. 

With AAP