New South Wales passes legislation to ban offshore drilling and mining

The NSW Government has moved decisively to protect our beaches and coastal environment by banning seabed petroleum and mineral mining off the NSW coast.

Ecklonia radiata - Crayweed

The Government secured support from across the NSW Parliament to implement the ban, making New South Wales the first state in Australia to prohibit seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and mining.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Seabed Mining and Exploration) Bill 2024 amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to prohibit:

  1. Seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and recovery in NSW coastal waters
  2. Other development within the state for the purposes of seabed petroleum and mineral exploration and recovery anywhere.

The Bill reaffirms the NSW Government’s commitment to protecting NSW coastal waters from offshore mining activities.

These activities can have a devastating effect on our marine wildlife by releasing toxic materials, destroying habitat and creating harmful sediment levels. We must prevent this happening.

The bill is designed to stop severe environmental damage that can result from offshore exploration and drilling including oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions.

The ban exempts coastal protection works including beach nourishment and beach scraping, which involves removing a layer of sand from the foreshore and transferring it to a different location on that same beach. This strengthens beaches, dunes and cliff systems from erosion.

Certain dredging activities, not involving mineral exploration or recovery, which are required as routine practice with environmental and economic benefits will also continue. This includes laying pipelines or submarine cables.

No other state or territory has acted so comprehensively to prevent the severe environmental impacts that can result from offshore exploration.

Quote attributable to Minister for Climate Change and Energy Penny Sharpe:

'The damage from seabed exploration and mining is significant. It threatens our state's sensitive marine environments, coastal areas and Indigenous heritage.

'With broad support, the NSW Labor Government has taken a responsible and balanced approach to banning seabed mining and protecting our marine environment into the future.'

Quote attributable to Minister for the Central Coast David Harris:

'Not only does this ban keep our waters clean and our marine life healthy, but it also gives certainty to coastal communities, like mine on the Central Coast who are overwhelmingly against offshore mining.

'I am pleased to be a part of a government that not only listens to the community but also acts in their best interests.'