NSW Parliament votes unanimously

There will be no exploration or mining in state waters off the Northern Beaches, with the State Government passing a law on 12 March to outlaw the capture of fossil fuels.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (SeaBed Mining and Exploration) Bill 2024 was passed unanimously, with Independent Wakehurst MP Michael Regan moving an amendment to ensure no loopholes in the law.

Asset Energy/Bounty Oil and Gas were jointly granted the PEP-11 licence to explore the waters from Manly up to Newcastle, with the permit expiring in 2021. An extension has been on the cards ever since, with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s attempt to quash the permit in 2022 successfully challenged in court.

“This Bill has been a long time coming,” Mr Regan said. “It is a shared achievement of the whole parliament. Even more importantly, this bill is credit to all the individuals, community groups and environmental organisations who have worked so hard to make NSW legislation to prevent seabed mining and exploration for oil and gas a reality.”

The law will ban mining in state waters, however, PEP-11 operates in Commonwealth waters which are outside of the state’s power. For this reason, Warringah MP Zali Steggall first introduced her ‘Stop PEP11’ bill in 2021, with a third reading in the House of Representatives earlier this year. Ms Steggall is calling on the Federal Parliament to stop off-shore mining in Commonwealth waters, which would take the ultimate decision away from Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King.

In a newsletter to constituents after the bill was passed, Ms Steggall said: “The NSW Government just passed legislation which puts coastal communities’ minds at rest, but it only covers NSW coastal waters. I’m calling for the Federal Government to act and protect our coast in Commonwealth waters as well. By legislating against it we can put an end to PEP-11 forever.”

Pittwater MP Rory Amon, who last year had submitted his own legislation to stop PEP-11 (which was never voted on in parliament), said on Instagram the passage of the bill was a ‘massive win’.

Asset Energy was contacted for comment, but a reply was not received in time for print.