Environment plans

By law, a petroleum or greenhouse gas activity cannot commence before NOPSEMA has assessed and accepted an environment plan for that activity. 

NOPSEMA will only accept an environment plan once it has determined the plan meets all the requirements of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009.

An overview of the assessment process (post transparency) is described below.

Flow chart cropped

Acceptance criteria

The Environment Regulations provide eight acceptance criteria that NOPSEMA must assess each environment plan against. These criteria are that the environment plan:

  • is appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity

  • demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable

  • demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level

  • provides for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria

  • includes an appropriate implementation strategy

  • does not occur in a World Heritage Property (with the exception of environmental monitoring or responding to an emergency)

  • demonstrates that appropriate consultation has been, and will continue to be, undertaken

  • complies with the OPGGS Act 2006 and its associated regulations.

Inherent within the acceptance criteria and explicit in the Environment Regulations is the requirement to address impacts and risks to protected matters under part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Content requirements

The scope of an environment plan is determined with regard to the nature and scale of the proposed activity and the identified impacts on and risks to the receiving environment. The Environment Regulations also detail required content for an environment plan, this includes:

  • a description of the activity, including location and proposed timetable

  • a description of the environment that may be affected by the activity, including details of the relevant values and sensitivities

  • a description of the legislative, and other, requirements that apply to the activity

  • details and an evaluation of the environmental impacts and risks of the activity

  • details of the control measures that will be in place to reduce the environmental impacts and risks of the activity to a level that is acceptable and as low as reasonably practicable

  • environmental performance standards (and associated measurement criteria) to set the required performance of control measures

  • environmental performance outcomes (and associated measurement criteria) that the activity must achieve to have an acceptable impact on the environment

  • an implementation strategy describing the titleholder’s environmental management system, roles and responsibilities for implementing the environment plan and the monitoring, recording and auditing that will be undertaken to review environmental performance

  • an Oil Pollution Emergency Plan that provides adequate arrangements for responding to and monitoring oil pollution

  • a report detailing the process undertaken to consult with relevant persons, any objections or claims made by relevant persons and how they were addressed, and plans for ongoing consultation

  • the titleholder’s corporate environmental policy

  • details of a nominated liaison person

NOPSEMA’s interpretation of the content requirements for an environment plan as specified in the Environment Regulations is detailed in the Environment plan content requirements (PDF 953KB).

Standardised content for Environment plans

Industry initiatives to develop pieces of standardised content for environment plans, such as reference cases, represent opportunities to efficiently meet the content requirements of the regulations and promote consistent levels of good environmental management across the industry. NOPSEMA is able to support these initiatives by providing a regulatory advice statement to complement published standard content, communicating the regulator’s views on how these references can be used in environment plans and giving titleholders confidence to refer to them in submissions.

To view the Marine Biosecurity Reference Case for Offshore Vessels and  Maritime Industry Australia Ltd and accompanying Regulatory Advice Statement visit the Maritime Industry Australia Ltd website


NOPSEMA makes assessment decisions based on the requirements of the law and the merits of the proposed management of environmental risks and impacts. NOPSEMA has published a decision making guideline describing how it considers environment plan submissions against the decision-making criteria for acceptance specified in the Environment Regulations.

NOPSEMA publishes the status of assessments on the under assessments page for environment plans, and the OPP page for offshore project proposals.


The Environment Regulations require NOPSEMA to publish the environment plan submitted by the titleholder for assessment, and to publish the final accepted version of an environment plan. Environment plans are published in full, with the exception of sensitive information from the consultation process and transcripts of correspondence between stakeholders and the titleholder. This information is used by NOPSEMA during the assessment, but is not published for wider review.  

Environment plans currently undergoing assessment by NOPSEMA are available on the Under assessment page. Environment plans that have been accepted and are in force are available on the Underway offshore page.