Environmental assessment rules for offshore oil and gas projects

Regulations applying EC rules on environmental assessment to offshore oil and gas projects finally came into force on 30 April, almost ten years behind schedule.1 Criteria spelling out when assessments are likely to be required have been set out in guidance, which also makes it clear that consent for offshore schemes may be refused for firms without environmental management systems. The regulations contain enforcement and offence provisions which may have implications for other sectors.

Certain offshore oil and gas operations are covered by the 1985 EC Directive on environmental assessment of major projects, which was due to be implemented by mid-1988. The previous Government's failure to apply the regime to offshore activities attracted strong criticism, and it has taken a change of Government to rectify the omission.

The new regulations apply to deep drilling, production development and offshore pipelines. Environmenta

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