Santos is required, under the regulation 11A of the OPGGS Environment Regulations, to consult with each of the following relevant persons in the course of preparing an environment plan (EP) or a revision of an EP:
- each Department or agency of the Commonwealth to which the activities to be carried out under the EP may be relevant;
- each Department or agency of a State or the Northern Territory to which the activities to be carried out under the EP may be relevant;
- the Department of the responsible State Minister, or the responsible Northern Territory Minister;
- a person or organisation whose functions, interests or activities may be affected by the activities to be carried out under the EP; and
- any other person or organisation that Santos considers relevant.
Santos consults to further ascertain, understand and assess values and sensitivities of the environment that may be affected by a proposed activity, and potential environmental impacts and risks of a proposed activity. There may be information Santos is not yet aware of, or about which Santos needs more information to properly understand and assess activity impacts and risks. Consultation may inform this. It may also inform how environmental impacts and risks are to be effectively reduced to as low as reasonably practicable and an acceptable level.
Examples of ‘functions, interests or activities’ that may be affected by the activities to be carried out under an EP may include those arising in relation to a spiritual or cultural connection to land or to sea country, tourism, recreational and commercial fishing and local communities (though these are merely illustrative examples and not an exhaustive list).
There is information available on the website, for each EP, regarding:
- the proposed activities (including when were and how they are proposed to be carried out)
- the environment that may potentially be affected by the proposed activities
- identified potential impacts and risks of the proposed activities
- proposed control measures to seek to reduce impacts and risks to as low as reasonably practicable and an acceptable level.
The website also depicts the EMBA for each EP. This may assist your assessment of whether you are a relevant person. ‘EMBA. stands for ‘environment that may be affected’. The ‘EMBA’ represents the greatest geographical extent of environment that could be affected by unplanned, ‘worst case’ spill scenarios. This is demonstrated using a map.
The EMBA differs for each EP, depending of the proposed activities. A map of the EMBA can be found in the website description for each EP and is also contained (and explained in more detail) in each EP.
More information about ‘functions, interests or activities’ that may be relevant for the purposes of consultation can be found in NOPSEMA’s Guideline on ‘Consultation in the course of preparing an environment plan’, available here.
In May 2023, NOPSEMA released the ‘Consultation on offshore petroleum environment plans brochure’ that provides information for the community on how it can participate in the environmental approvals process through consultation. The brochure is available here.
Relevant persons being consulted on environment plans under the OPGGS Environment Regulations should note that they:
- are entitled to be given sufficient information to allow them to make an informed assessment of the possible consequences of the activity on their functions, interests or activities;
- are entitled to be allowed a reasonable period for the consultation;
- may request particular information provided in consultation not be published. If you do ask this, Santos will respect that and the information will not be published under the relevant regulations. Information we need to give to NOPSEMA to assess our plan will be provided in a separate report (rather that in the published EP).