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NSW Government moves to end PEP-11 once and for all

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Community groups have applauded the NSW Government’s move to end PEP-11, effectively banning all offshore oil and gas mining exploration off the Hunter coastline.

It’s understood new legislation will effectively kill the controversial Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 project once and for all, as well as any additional infrastructure.

Backed by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Resources Keith Pitt, PEP-11 drew the ire of tens of thousands of residents, along with several Labor politicians, in communities from the Northern Beaches to Newcastle.

The state government’s latest announcement was welcomed by the Wilderness Society, who fought against the proposal.

“The high-water mark for Australia’s fossil fuel industry is behind us,” NSW campaigns manager Victoria Jack said.

“This new bill shows that the tide’s turning.”

If the legislation is passed, NSW will make history as the first jurisdiction in Australia to ban oil and gas in its coastal waters.

The Wilderness Society worked alongside communities to challenge this project for many years, due to the devastating impact it would have for people, nature and climate if it were to go ahead.

In the lead-up to the 2023 NSW election, it also campaigned for a legislated ban on offshore exploration or mining for commercial purposes.

“With this news, the government has shown it is listening to NSW residents,” Ms Jack said.

“Now, we’re urging parliament to support the bill, in line with the calls of NSW communities, and secure a gas-free coastline for NSW.

“This legislation is a real opportunity to secure the gas-free coastline that NSW wants and deserves.

“After years of overwhelming opposition to PEP-11, we are hopeful that parliament will support the bill and we can finally say goodbye to the threat of fossil fuels off the NSW coast.”

Wilderness Society manager of policy and strategy Tim Beshara admitted it was a smart call.

“The community was against it, the electoral politics was against it, the science was against it,” he said.

“The only barrier that ever existed with killing off this project was politicians’ fear of any retribution the fossil fuel industry could carry out against them.

“This move shows the political influence of the sector is waning.”

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