NSW bans offshore oil and gas exploration, another nail driven into the coffin of PEP 11.
The NSW Deputy Premier, Paul Toole yesterday announced his government would effectively ban all offshore mineral and petroleum exploration along the NSW coastline, including the PEP11 permit between Sydney and Newcastle.
“Whether it’s in NSW or Commonwealth waters, the NSW government policy leaves no doubt that offshore gas and oil exploration is off the table,” said the NSW Deputy Premier. “This policy recognises that our coastal ecosystems are complex and sensitive and formalises our long-held view that the NSW Government will not support offshore exploration or mining for commercial purposes,” he said.
“They need not apply” was the blunt message being sent to offshore prospectors.
The NSW government, along with the federal government, has joint authority over PEP 11.
The announcement by Paul Toole comes a week after the Prime Minister called on NSW to formally oppose PEP 11, although his request doesn’t reflect the traditional stances of the respective governments on the controversial offshore gas plan.
The NSW government has long already opposed PEP 11 going ahead, while the Federal government – fronted by Resource Minister Keith Pitt – has been strongly supporting it over the past two years. The federal government only officially flipped to oppose PEP11 in December last year, their eleventh-hour conversion taken with a grain of salt. They announced it in a marginal seat, a few months out from a federal election.
This whole flurry of activity to formally scrap PEP11 has been sparked by Surfrider, who called out the process in early February. The Federal government had been quick to announce the scrapping of PEP11, but very little had been done to actually scrap it. The formal NSW announcement moves this process along, although the company currently holding the permit has formally asked for the decision to be reviewed by the regulator.
The wider ramifications of yesterday’s announcement are huge and go beyond PEP 11. There is currently no oil and gas development off the coast of NSW, and it is now the only Australian state to formally rule it out. The ban also covers offshore mineral exploration, with the only exemption being for offshore sand dredging used to nourish beaches hit by severe erosion.
Banner Image: The NSW Government's decision not only rules out the PEP 11 exploration permit between Sydney and Newcastle (pictured), it keeps the entire NSW coastline free from oil, gas and mineral exploration. Photo Jarrah Lynch