Broome locals have been left in the dark over the dangerous climate and nature risks posed by Woodside’s new plans to drill at Scott Reef and develop the Browse field off the Kimberley coast, environmental groups and experts say. 

Experts will brief Broome locals, who are largely unaware of Woodside’s new plans for their town, at a special campaign launch in Broome to ‘Save Scott Reef’ hosted by Environs Kimberley, Greenpeace and Conservation Council of WA at Broome Lotteries House on Thursday May 16. 

Ten years after Woodside’s failed attempt to build an onshore gas processing plant at James Price Point, the fossil fuel giant is planning to build a 900-kilometre-long pipeline off the Kimberley coast to pipe gas from the Browse field to the Karratha gas plant, as part of its wider Burrup Hub project. 

Woodside’s proposal, which has been submitted for federal and state approval, would see the company drill up to 50 wells at the stunning Scott Reef, turning pristine waters into an industrial gas zone. 

Sitting 270 kilometres off the Kimberley coast, Scott Reef is one of Australia’s most vibrant and biodiverse standalone coral reefs, home to many threatened species including endangered green sea turtles and the endangered pygmy blue whale. 

Scott Reef Credit: Alex Westover, Greenpeace

The stunning Scott Reef off the Kimberley coast where Woodside plans to drill up to 50 gas wells to develop the Browse field. Credit: Alex Westover, Greenpeace. 

Woodside wants to drill just two kilometres from Scott Reef’s edge, risking a catastrophic oil spill. Meanwhile, the pipeline Woodside wants to build will also sit within 2 to 3 kilometres of the stunning Rowley Shoals, a diving paradise regularly visited by Broome marine tourism operators.  

Broome locals have not been informed of the dangerous risks Woodside’s plans pose for the Kimberley coast. 

“Woodside’s plans haven’t been made clear and transparent to Broome residents. People are just not aware of the risks. If something goes wrong, a well blowout could spread for hundreds of kilometres,” said Martin Pritchard, Director of Strategy at Environs Kimberley. 

“Woodside’s safety record has been described by unions as ‘diabolical.’ They have had two pipeline accidents already this year off Karratha. We must place the protection of the Kimberley coast and everyone's jobs in tourism over Woodside profits.” 

With the project facing possible approval within the next few months, Environs Kimberley called on Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to visit Broome and Scott Reef to see first-hand what is at stake. 

“This is a massive new fossil fuel development in a critically important area for endangered pygmy blue whales and green turtles - it’s completely unacceptable. Minister Plibersek can protect our oceans and wildlife for future generations by stopping Woodside’s destructive plans. We would like to invite her to come to the Kimberley and see for herself what's at stake,” Mr Pritchard said. 

At the launch, IPCC report author and renowned climate scientist Bill Hare will discuss climate modelling that indicates Broome will become unliveable if fossil fuel emissions are not drastically reduced soon. 

Environs Kimberley and Greenpeace will also present new research that highlights a massive increase in noise pollution from the number of helicopters taking off and landing at Broome airport and disturbing local residents, if Woodside’s Browse project is approved. 

“Scott Reef is the unknown jewel in the crown of Australia’s offshore reefs. There would be a national outcry if Woodside was drilling for oil and gas on the Great Barrier Reef, we need the same kind of response here,” said Mr Pritchard.

“Broome banded together and successfully defeated Woodside in 2013. We need the community’s support again here to protect Scott Reef and the Kimberley coast from Woodside for good.”

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