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Feedback sought on draft regulations

Feedback sought on draft regulations

The Government is seeking feedback on draft regulations to classify exploratory oil drilling under the EEZ Act, Environment Minister Amy Adams announced today.

The draft regulations propose classifying exploratory drilling for oil and gas as a non-notified discretionary activity.

“The proposed non-notified discretionary classification appears to be the pragmatic option for these activities, and would provide a level of regulation proportionate to their effects. It would provide effective oversight and environmental safeguards without burdening industry with excessive costs and timeframes,” Ms Adams says.

A non-notified discretionary activity requires operators to apply for a marine consent but this would not be publicly notified.

The Environmental Protection Agency would be required to fully assess the effects of the activity on the environment or existing interests, and, if approved, can apply any conditions to manage those effects.

The release of the exposure draft of the proposed regulations follows consultation in August this year. Submissions can be made until 31 January, 2014.

The exposure draft includes a specific definition of exploratory drilling, with additional supporting information, including information about the probability and potential effects of an oil spill in New Zealand waters.

The EEZ Act came into force on 28 June 2013, bringing a comprehensive approach to managing activities undertaken in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The Government will make final decisions on the classification after consideration of submissions and intends for the regulations to be effective from early 2014.

Under the EEZ Act, activities may be classified as permitted, discretionary, non-notified discretionary or prohibited.

The exposure draft and information on how to make a submission is available at:http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/oceans/current-work/index.html

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