Media Releases - 16 December 2021

PEP11’s dragged out cancellation shows offshore oil and gas licensing rules must be rewritten

Over 700 people hold hands in Newcastle against offshore gas in 2018.

The federal government’s long-delayed rejection of the PEP11 project is a win for communities but ultimately demonstrates the systemic issues around the mindless release of oil and gas acreage.

Following the announcement, Tim Beshara Manager of Policy and Strategy at the Wilderness Society makes the following comments:

“It’s a relief to hear the federal government will reject the application to renew the PEP11 exploration permit because we know offshore gas threatens coastal industries, delicate marine ecosystems and our climate. This outcome is thanks to a hard-fought campaign by community groups in Northern Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle and Port Stephens, including the Protect our Coast Alliance, the Surfrider Foundation and volunteers from the Wilderness Society.”

“However, we need to recognise that even when a process like this ends, finally, with a rejection, that communities have been exposed to uncertainty about their future for far too long. The fact that it took this long to formally reject the application - even though it was opposed by communities, the State Government, and local MPs for years, and even by the Prime Minister back in March - is indicative of the fact that vested interests hold far too much power over what happens to communities and the environment. And the fact that we still don’t have a formal record of the decision further demonstrates how problematic it is.

“Any system that gives every right to the petroleum industry and none to the community simply isn’t fit-for-purpose when to limit dangerous climate change we need to be leaving fossil fuels in the ground without exception.

“Right now, Keith Pitt is auctioning off tens of thousands of square kilometres of Commonwealth waters to the fossil fuel industry, despite the climate imperative and even though offshore oil and gas exploration spending is at record low levels. PEP11 is one element of a larger political folly.

“Future governments are going to need to pull back this mindless release of fossil fuel acreage and we need a system that will allow us to do it. A safe climate can’t come second to the wishes of fossil fuel company executives. There are hundreds of thousands of square kilometres covered by oil and gas licences out there and the Morrison Government is spending millions on taxpayer funded geologists to work out which areas to open up next. Every one of these licences is a genie that will have to be put back in the bottle,” Tim concluded.

For further comment contact Tim Beshara on 0437878786