News National Protesters turn out in strength to stop Bight drilling

Protesters turn out in strength to stop Bight drilling

Protesters converge on Adelaide's Rundle Mall to denounce Equinor's plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight, Photo: David Mariuz
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Hundreds of people have gathered on an Adelaide beach and elsewhere across Australia to oppose Norwegian energy giant Equinor’s plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

Attending the Hands Across the Sand protest, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the majority of South Australians don’t want any oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

“We don’t want oil washing up on our beautiful beaches and we know, in an era of climate change, we just can’t afford to be expanding oil drilling or coal mines or any other fossil fuels,” she said on Sunday.

Equinor, who says the Bight “could be one of Australia’s largest untapped oil reserves”, wants to drill a well more than 370km off the coast of South Australia.

Drilling of the proposed Stromlo-1 well will begin in the summer of 2020/21 if it receives all necessary regulatory approval.

Ms Hanson-Young says the potential jobs gained from the proposed project is “not worth the risk”.

“What we know is that the jobs from the fishing and tourism industry would be put at risk if there was an oil spill.”

Equinor in February voluntarily released an environmental draft plan, which was open to public feedback from anyone interested in the project over a 30-day period.

Last month, they updated their plan and submitted it to the environmental regulator for offshore petroleum safety.

The South Australian director of environmental advocacy group Wilderness Society, Peter Owen, said there are “unprecedented levels of community concern” over the project.

Mr Owen says a delegation will be going to Norway on Monday to front Equinor’s board at their annual general meeting.

“It’s very remote where they’re proposing to drill, so if it all goes wrong out here, there’s nothing they can do.

“We all remember the Gulf of Mexico,” Mr Owen said.

-with AAP