Updated guidance on offshore renewables environmental approvals
The offshore renewables environmental approvals guidance has been developed to support efficient primary environmental approval processes for offshore renewable energy projects.
The guidance has been updated in collaboration with the Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and highlights key licensing and approval steps for proposed projects.
Activities that are likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance (MNES) require assessment by DCCEEW under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). These activities include commercial-scale offshore renewable energy infrastructure developments, such as offshore wind farms, and may also include early-stage field studies, investigations, and surveys that inform the feasibility of these commercial-scale projects. Further information about referrals and environmental assessment under the EPBC Act is available at dcceew.gov.au
It is recommended that EPBC Act referrals for offshore renewables projects are submitted only after an area has been declared and a feasibility licence has been granted by the Minister for Energy under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act).
Prior to conducting in-field feasibility activities such as deploying floating lidar or installing met ocean buoys, licence holders will need to submit a management plan to the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator. DCCEEW is currently developing regulations to provide further detail on management plan requirements, noting these regulations are necessary to fully operationalise the OEI Act regulatory framework.