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Ningaloo Reef faces threat to status

THE push by petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil and gas 50km off Western Australia’s spectacular Ningaloo Reef could jeopardise efforts to have the area listed on the World Heritage register.

With a decision likely by June, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett admits he is worried.

“If there was drilling anywhere in the vicinity of the stunning Ningaloo Reef, that would certainly compromise any application for World Heritage listing,” Mr Barnett said.

The federal government nominated Ningaloo for World Heritage in January last year, and Shell’s plan to drill in the iconic marine area for 60 days from about September sparked a public outcry when it was revealed by The Australian. last week.

Sites granted World Heritage status are deemed to have a universal value “that transcends the value they hold for a particular nation”.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, who is considering the application, said he was concerned “about just how close this is to a magnificent, pristine area designated for protection”.

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