THE NT Government is confident its newly introduced Petroleum (Environment) Regulations will meet community and industry concerns.

NT Mines and Energy Minister, David Tollner, said the Government has listened to community concerns and consulted scientific experts about how to conduct safe and environmentally responsible onshore oil and gas activity in the Territory.

He said the new Petroleum (Environment) Regulations take into account recommendations from energy law expert Dr Tina Hunter and Dr Allan Hawke AC.

“The Regulations will form an important part of the regulatory framework for the onshore oil and gas industry and are key to ensuring environmental protection,” Mr Tollner said.

“The Regulations require that approved environment management plans must be in place for all onshore oil and gas activities that have an environmental impact.

“The plan must demonstrate that all environmental risks and impacts are identified and reduced to an acceptable level and a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.

“The Regulations incorporate best practice from other Australian and international jurisdictions and deliver on relevant recommendations and findings by Dr Allan Hawke AC about the introduction of a best-practice regulatory framework for the NT.”

The Minister said the new Regulations embrace the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development and focus on reducing environmental impacts to levels that are both acceptable and as low as reasonably practicable.

Approved Environment Management Plans will become public and legally binding documents meaning that companies must fully comply with their approved plans.

“Dr Hunter’s findings found that the Regulations were ‘a quantum leap forward’ from the previous regulatory framework and ‘herald a new era of objective-based regulation …assessed to be the most suitable form of regulation’,” Mr Tollner said.

“Dr Hunter specifically praised the requirement that any petroleum development must be assessed by the Mines Minister for its risks and impacts against the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development to determine whether or not the activity can go ahead.

“The new Petroleum (Environment) Regulations will ensure the Territory’s environment is protected and that any onshore oil and gas activity can only occur if it is ecologically sustainable for the Northern Territory,” the Minister said.