Sydney – Australian green activists expressed outrage on Friday at a government decision to allow energy giant Shell to drill for gas at a pristine reef that was listed as a World Heritage site just two weeks ago.
Ningaloo Reef is considered a natural wonder, sprawling some 260km along Australia’s west coast and teeming with hundreds of tropical fish and coral species.
The UN’s cultural body Unesco listed the remote Ningaloo coast as a World Heritage site late last month due to its reef, sea turtles and white whales.
But environmentalists say it could be under threat after the Australian government green-lighted a proposal from Shell to explore for gas nearby.
“We are very concerned that the Australian government is even allowing the oil and gas sector to operate so close to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef,” said the WWF’s Paul Gamblin.
“It really beggars belief that they aren’t requiring a full environmental estimate of Shell’s latest drilling proposal.”