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 (Environment Regulations).

Broadly, the purpose of an environment plan is for the titleholder to firstly identify the proposed petroleum activity’s impacts on and risks to the receiving environment. Secondly, the titleholder must set out control measures to reduce the identified environmental impacts and risks of the activity and describe how and to what standard of performance will those measures will be implemented and throughout the life of the activity including emergency situations.

Assessment process

 Flowchart - Assessment process for environment plans - April 2016

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 GN1344 - Environment Plan Content Requirements - Rev 3 - April 2016 (PDF 2.9MB).

Summaries

Upon acceptance of an environment plan, a titleholder is required by law to provide NOPSEMA with a summary of the accepted plan within 10 working days for assessment and publication. Publishing summaries of accepted environment plans seeks to provide accountability and transparency of offshore petroleum environmental management. 

To be published, the summary must be to the satisfaction of NOPSEMA. If NOPSEMA decides a summary is not to its satisfaction, the titleholder will be asked to modify and resubmit the summary.

An environment plan summary must include:

  • a description of the activity and its location

  • a description of the environment in which the activity will be conducted

  • a summary of how the titleholder will monitor their environmental performance

  • a summary of how the titleholder proposes to respond to an oil pollution incident

  • details of the activity’s environmental impacts and risks, how they were identified and evaluated and the control measures in place to manage them

  • details of 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

  • details of a nominated liaison person

NOPSEMA’s GL1566 - Environment plan summaries - Rev 1 - July 2016 (PDF 196KB) provides titleholders with further guidance NOPSEMA’s interpretation of an acceptable environment plan summary. Specifically, NOPSEMA has provided more detail in relation to the inclusion of environmental impacts and risks information and details of the consultation process undertaken during the preparation of the environment plan.