Any construction of a collaborative strategy for implementing regulatory revisions or permitting systems for resource developments has to be centrally driven. It has to maintain the protection and enforcement of environmental standards while being enabling.
It has to give over rights of use and access in a self-regulating framework of adaptive management rather than reliance on use of the precautionary principle. However, streamlining environmental review of offshore developments related to resource use and extraction still needs to allow for sufficient opportunity for effective decision-making on environmental trade-offs where great uncertainty exists. Streamlining may limit an individual government agencies capacity to understand and effectively address the impacts of a development proposal.
A large component of avoiding unnecessary use of the precautionary principle ‘backstop’ is use of an integrated risk-based As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) approach to controls on resource developments. This approach reduces residual risk rather than assuming a precautionary approach to inherent risk and environmental protection, creating an enabling and self-regulating environment for energy and resource developments.
Reforms place responsibility for proof of meeting regulatory environmental requirements on the proponent. Use of a risk-based approach may not yet be fully reflected in government approaches to adaptive management and environmental regulatory reform. Building knowledge through adaptive management requires use of an internationally recognised risk-based approach to resource developments. The absence of proper application of a risk-based approach to resource developments means the precautionary principle may be overly relied on as a back-stop where information is lacking.