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Group takes legal action over oil drilling in the Bight
 

February 2020

A legal challenge against plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight has been launched in the Federal Court.
The Wilderness Society is taking the national regulator the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to court after it granted conditional environmental approval to Norwegian oil company Equinor to conduct drilling.
The society alleges Equinor did not consult "important and relevant parties", which it said was required by regulations.
Equinor, which is majority owned by the Norwegian Government, plans to drill its Stromlo-1 exploration well 372 kilometres south of the Nullarbor coastline, off South Australia.
Last month's environmental approval will allow the company to drill 24 hours a day for about 60 days between November and April in either 202021 or 202122.
Drilling in the Bight has been fiercely opposed by environmental groups concerned about the threat of a catastrophic oil spill.
NOPSEMA's environmental approval process took eight months, with the authority reviewing more than 30,000 submissions and twice requiring Equinor to modify and resubmit its plans.
Equinor plans to use a mobile offshore drilling unit, supported by three ships and two helicopters.
The Wilderness Society is a member of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, a group of environmental organisations along with the Mirning Indigenous people, whose traditional lands cover far south-eastern Western Australia.
At the announcement of its court action in front of the Federal Court building in Adelaide's CBD, the society said Equinor refused to formally consult with it or other environment groups on its plans.
It also accused the oil company of refusing to formally consult with "key Indigenous groups and local governments". Present at the launch of the legal action in the CBD, were Sea Shepherd Australia's Jeff Hansen, Mirning elder Bunna Lawrie, the Wilderness Society's Peter Owen and Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson.

 

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