A DOZEN protestors gathered outside the Perth office of Norwegian energy company Equinor last week as the company ramps up its bid to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
Equinor recently released its response to public submissions on its environmental plan, ignoring all but 1039 of the 31,772 submissions, most being rejected as too political.
Recently graduated environmental scientist Damien Cole, who ran as an independent in the seat of Corangamite, criticised Equinor for ignoring submissions, saying there was widespread opposition to mining in the Bight and the consultation period was a good opportunity for people to speak up about the issue rather than just its proposal.
“Communities are worried about more than that, they’re not just worried about Equinor, they’re worried about the future of their communities,” Mr Cole said.
“Surely out of the 31,000 submissions there was more than a dozen odd where they went ‘oh yeah, that’s relevant’.
“Overall they’ve made this submission process way too specific and they’ve used very confusing language, obviously in order to eliminate a lot of the objections or a lot of the submissions,” Mr Cole said.
He joked that if the drilling went ahead, he might try paddling out into the Bight to lock himself onto the oil rig.
Last month a paddle-out protest was held at Cottesloe Beach opposing Equinor’s plans.
Coastal Cleanup Crew founder Daisy Kermode attended the event, which was part of a national protest: “I really don’t think that new oil drilling in the Bight is positive for the globe or the Southern Ocean environment, that’s why I went to the protest,” Ms Kermode said.
Last week’s protest was timed to coincide with Equinor’s annual general meeting and a delegation of opposition groups from Australia flew over to protest.
Wilderness Society South Australia director Peter Owen flew to Norway to tell shareholders the company was contemptuous of Aussies, as it had released its environmental plan on the last possible day to avoid a government-regulated feedback process.
“Instead it ran its own sham feedback process and has dismissed almost all of the Australian public concerns represented by 30,000 unique submissions in just five weeks.”
In its response, Equinor said it had rejected the majority of submissions because they dealt with the “political” debate over mining in the Bight rather than addressing specific issues with its environmental plan.
It said of the 1039 submissions considered, only 13 resulted in changes to its plan.
They include expanding the list of potential species affected by mining to include beaked whales, and revising underwater sound modelling so that the noise of transponders is considered.
by RACHEL SIMMONDS and STEVE GRANT