Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) concluded Monday its staged release of documents relating to Bight Petroleum’s proposed seismic survey to be undertaken in the Great Australian Bight, off the coast of South Australia.
NOPSEMA commenced releasing documents relating to the survey in December 2014, making them publicly available through its website, following a request by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation.
NOPSEMA CEO, Stuart Smith, said NOPSEMA undertook a thorough assessment of the Lightning 3D Seismic Survey Environment Plan submitted by Bight Petroleum Pty Ltd. in accordance with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 and its assessment policies.
“Finalizing the release of documents is in line with being a good regulator. NOPSEMA has applied robust assessment processes, including rigorous compliance monitoring of the proposal by Bight Petroleum. The staged release of documents has ensured NOPSEMA balanced the legal requirements around release of information while supporting transparency and accountability as the regulator,” Smith said.
Throughout the release process NOPSEMA engaged with IFAW, the Office of the Information Commissioner, and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to release the documents in accordance with applicable FOI legislation while ensuring the local community in the area the survey is to take place had access to the information.
“NOPSEMA has built a reputation for regulatory effectiveness, independence, professionalism and consistency. It supports sharing of accurate regulatory data and information, in accordance with the law, to strengthen transparency and support improved industry performance,” Smith said.
The decision to release the environment plan assessment was based on the circumstances of this particular case. Future requests for information will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“As this FOI request related to the first environment plan to be assessed under the new streamlined processes associated with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), NOPSEMA decided to release all documents in order to demonstrate the rigorous processes applied to these assessments,” Smith said.
In September 2015 an independent review of NOPSEMA’s compliance with the environmental management authorisation process (which is implemented in accordance with the EPBC Act), determined that NOPSEMA is meeting all of its commitments, and has appropriate measures in place to ensure ongoing compliance.
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