The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental
Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act) is to be amended to allow
petroleum exploration marine consents to be obtained without input
from the public.
This will be achieved by establishing petroleum exploration as a
non-notified discretionary activity – meaning that there will
be no scope for public submissions and that oversight will rest
with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The Act will come into force in June this year, following the
promulgation of the necessary regulations. However, the Government
has held out the treatment of petroleum exploration to be dealt
with via an amendment to the Act through a Supplementary Order
Paper to the Marine Legislation Bill.
Environment Minister Amy Adams has indicated that there will be
formal consultations on the SOP, which will be undertaken
Classifying petroleum exploration appears to have caused some
problems for the Government. The Minister indicated that industry
sought permitted activity status, meaning that no consent would be
required. However, the Government acknowledged in the regulations
discussion document that exploration activities are likely to have
effects that are more than minor.
How, then, to encourage exploration activities, while also
ensuring an appropriate level of oversight and discretion?
The Government's proposed solution is that applications for
petroleum exploration marine consent will not be publicly notified.
The lack of opportunity for public submissions will save permit
applicants significant time and costs but will – no doubt
– be opposed by environmental groups.
The regulations under the EEZ Act
Activities which will be classified as permitted, meaning no
marine consent will be required are:
marine scientific research
prospecting for petroleum and minerals, and
exploration for minerals.
Production mining activities for petroleum and minerals will be
classified as discretionary and will be publicly notified. No
activities are proposed to be prohibited.
The information in this article is for informative purposes
only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact
Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.
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We have set out some examples of how the MERCP Act impacts resource exploration and production, and what you need to do.
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