The Northern Territory government has imposed a moratorium on fracking while it conducts an independent inquiry.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the move delivers on an election promise from Labor.
“It’s clear that Territorians are concerned about the effects of fracking on our land, water and environment. My government is acting on those concerns,” Mr Gunner said on Wednesday.
“We heard loud and clear the concerns of everyday Territorians, pastoralists, amateur and commercial fishermen, tourism operators, traditional owners, Indigenous rangers and environmental groups.”
The ban on fracking will take immediate effect and applies to all hydraulic fracturing of unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, either for exploration or extraction.
It does not apply to any existing operations though the government says only one is still ongoing and the fracking component has been completed.
The investigation will be conducted by a panel including experts in geology, and environmental regulation with its deadline to report back to the government yet to be determined.
Public consultation sessions will also be conducted in Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and other regional centres.
Mr Gunner said the investigation would determine whether fracking could be safely conducted or whether it presented too great an environmental risk.
He also pledged to release the finding of the panel’s report.