Deciding on environmental consultation requirements

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 2: 2016

NOPSEMA continues to progress initiatives as part of the stakeholder engagement and transparency improvement program. These initiatives include publication of the NOPSEMA guideline ‘Assessment of Environment Plans: Deciding on Consultation Requirements’. This guideline describes NOPSEMA’s consideration of consultation requirements when assessing environment plans. It identifies NOPSEMA’s position on key regulatory requirements and establishes the factors that influence the regulator’s decision-making. These factors include things such as deciding what constitutes ‘relevant persons’, providing ‘sufficient information’ and a ‘reasonable period’ to make an informed assessment.

NOPSEMA continues to work with APPEA in the development of a consultation methodology to improve consistency of consultation practices employed by titleholders to meet the requirements, reduce burden to all parties and build confidence in the environment plan process. APPEA expects this work to be available for use in the third quarter of 2016.

NOPSEMA will then update its guideline to specify that if the APPEA method is used to support consultation, this may in part comply with the NOPSEMA guideline to undertake effective consultation and the Environment Regulations. From 1 January 2017, titleholders will be obliged to identify if the method is not being applied prior to commencing consultation in preparation of an environment plan. NOPSMEA will only consent to apply a different method where titleholders provide evidence to demonstrate that the alternative approach is necessary in order to comply or substantive consultation has already been completed by the time the APPEA method becomes available. Transition provisions will be in place to recognise the status of consultation for individual environment plans. From mid-2017, NOPSEMA expects that all titleholders will be in a position to comply with the NOPSEMA guideline for consultation through application of the APPEA consultation method. Titleholders are encouraged to engage with NOPSEMA (environment@nopsema.gov.au) early to discuss how these changes will apply to individual environment plans.

NOPSEMA also continues to progress other initiatives to improve consultation practices and decision-making transparency for 2016. To provide feedback or for further information please visit the Stakeholder engagement and transparency page at nopsema.gov.au.