Environmental considerations

Embracing and safeguarding our unique environmental, cultural, social and community values is paramount as we pursue balanced gas-led growth and sustainable economic development pathways.

Following the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing, the Territory Government committed to implementing all 135 recommendations, many of which will safeguard water and other environmental values through strengthening regulation and ensuring accountable industry practice.

  • We’re working with independent experts, research agencies such as CSIRO, and industry to undertake a comprehensive Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA) in prospective onshore gas basins before production applications can be considered.

    The SREBA is a set of research studies to understand the current situation of people in the region along with plants, animals, water, and air quality, so that any changes over time can be monitored and measured. This will ensure up to date and accurate information enables optimal onshore gas industry development decision making.

    The baseline studies will be undertaken within six domains:

    • Water quality and quantity (groundwater, surface water, water quality, aquifer recharge rates)
    • Aquatic ecosystems (fish, plants and other animals that live in regional water bodies)
    • Terrestrial ecosystems (plants, animals)
    • Methane and Greenhouse Gas (existing natural and man-made sources)
    • Environmental Health (air quality, soil, water, food sources, background radiation)
    • Social, Cultural and Economic (people and communities, cultural identity, local economy, infrastructure and services, healthy country, strong voice, living environment)

    Completion of most studies is anticipated in 2022 to enable collation and reporting.

  • Environmental impact assessments allows the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) to analyse any significant potential environmental impacts of a development proposal, and make recommendations to the Minister for Environment about the acceptability, or otherwise, of those potential environmental impacts.

    The Territory’s environmental approval system safeguards environmentally responsible industry development by ensuring there is no unacceptable environmental impacts resulting from actions, now or in the future.

    Any development proposals with the potential for significant environmental impact must be planned, assessed and carried out taking into account:

    • the principles of ecologically sustainable development
    • the environmental decision-making hierarchy
    • the waste management hierarchy
    • ecosystem-based management
    • the impacts of a changing climate.

    Opportunities for community feedback are also encouraged at various stages of the environmental impact assessment process.

  • Environment management plans (EMP) ensure appropriate environmental management during all stages of specific onshore petroleum industry activities, which must be approved prior to beginning a project.

    The plans identify environmental factors associated with an activity and provides management strategies. They are a key tool to ensure any extraction of our natural resources is undertaken in a manner that benefits all Territorians, minimises environmental risks and does not create legacies of degradation or contamination for future generations.

    An EMP is more than an approval document, it also informs statutory compliance by the regulator to verify that environmental outcomes are being achieved.

    Where the proposed activities involve petroleum well drilling or hydraulic fracturing, an EMP is released for community comment. The Minister must consider these comments when making a decision.

    Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) to analyse any significant potential environmental impacts of a development proposal, and make recommendations to the Minister for Environment. The Minister may approve an activity if satisfied Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 approval criteria have been met and there is demonstration that all environmental impacts and risks are reduced as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable.

  • The Territory Government’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Management for New and Expanding Large Emitters identifies the minimum requirements for how greenhouse gas emissions are managed from new, or expanding, industrial and land use development projects.

    The Large Emitters Policy is a key ingredient in our approach to sustainable industry development and in pursuit of our net-zero emissions future. Projects within the policy scope must prepare a Greenhouse Gas Abatement Plan to demonstrate how the project will contribute to the Territory’s net zero emissions target.

    The policy brings consistency and transparency in how we work with industry to reduce emissions underpinned by economically, environmentally, and socially responsible decision-making. This balance is critical as we champion exciting new sustainable industry development like manufacturing, renewable energy and carbon offset industries to realise our significant economic growth opportunities that will make a real impact in the lives of all Territorians for generations to come.

Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA)

Find out more about the Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA).

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