All environment plans for offshore oil and gas activities will be published, and draft environment plans for offshore seismic and exploratory drilling activities will be open for public comment, under recent changes to environmental regulations.
Announcing the changes today Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new requirements were part of a suite of changes to improve consultation and increase transparency of offshore oil and gas activities.
“Australians need to be confident that oil and gas activities being carried out offshore meet our stringent environmental regulations, and that all environmental risks and impacts of the proposed activity are taken into account,” Minister Canavan said.
“The public will have a 30-day comment period to give feedback on the environmental management of proposed seismic and exploration drilling activities, providing a new level of accountability.
“Environment plans for all offshore activities will be published when they are submitted to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), before they are assessed.
“If the plan is accepted by NOPSEMA, it will be published, along with an explanation of how public comments have been taken into account, enabling the community to see how their concerns have been addressed.”
An environment plan describes the environment in which a proposed activity will take place, identifies the risks and impacts arising from that activity, and describes the measures in place to reduce these to ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ and an ‘acceptable level’. The plan must be assessed and accepted by NOPSEMA before any activity can be carried out.
The new regulations will come into action on April 25. All draft environment plans submitted from that date onwards will be published on the NOPSEMA website, along with information on how to make comments on the plans.