Environment Management Plan
The Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 require that an Environment Management Plan (EMP) is submitted by the petroleum interest holder (proponent) to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources (the Minister).
The Minister is responsible for review and the decision on whether submitted EMPs are approved.
What is an EMP
An EMP is an activity specific plan that aims to ensure appropriate environmental management practices are implemented during the various stages of that activity.
It identifies the key environmental matters associated with an activity and provides strategies and plans for managing them effectively.
An EMP is not just an approval document. It is an implementation and management tool for the petroleum interest holder (proponent) to manage field operations. It also informs statutory compliance by the regulator to verify that environmental outcomes are being achieved.
The EMP process
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will coordinate agency comments on a submitted EMP and undertake preliminary assessment of the document against the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 and Environmental Assessment Act 1982.
An EMP is provided to the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) for consideration under the Environmental Assessment Act 1982 and the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016.
The NT EPA considers an EMP under the Environmental Assessment Act 1982 and makes a decision about whether an activity has the potential to have a significant impact on the environment. The NT EPA will also review an EMP under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 and makes a recommendation to the Minister.
The Minister must consider the NT EPA's recommendation before making a decision whether to approve an EMP.
The Minister will consider an EMP and may approve the activity if satisfied that the objectives and approval criteria of the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 have been met. In particular, an EMP must demonstrate that all environmental impacts and risks associated with the activity are reduced to a level that is as low as reasonable practical and acceptable.
Where the proposed activities involve petroleum well drilling or hydraulic fracturing, an EMP is released for a 28 calendar day public comment period. The Minister must consider these public comments when making a decision.
An Environment Management Plan (EMP) must demonstrate how environmental risks are controlled and reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable in addition to meeting the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The regulations also mandate that stakeholders who are affected by the activity are properly consulted and engaged. The full contents of an EMP, with the exception of strictly in confidence information as defined by the Information Act 2002, will be made public.
Onshore gas non-compliance hotline
An onshore gas non-compliance hotline has also been established as a mechanism to report potential non-compliance of the onshore gas industry in the Northern Territory, in line with recommendation 14.27 of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry's Final Report.
The hotline is an avenue to report incidences about industry non-compliance.
The 24 hour toll free hotline is 1800 413 889. Calls can be made anonymously.
Last updated: 16 April 2019