Consultation on Environment Trust Bill (November 2020)

Since 2015 the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has been progressing policy relating to offsetting. This policy direction is drawn from Schedule 4(2) of The Offshore Minerals Ordinance 1994 (as amended) which requires hydrocarbons operators to include within Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) a description of the measures envisaged to eliminate, reduce, remedy and/or offset significant adverse effects to the environment arising out of oil and gas projects and associated infrastructure.

ExCo papers 187/15 and 124/16 explained that Premier Oil (PMO), as part of its Sea Lion Development EIS, propose to make an annual compensatory payment to offset the residual environmental impacts of their activities that cannot be avoided, reduced or mitigated further. The proposed Environment Trust legislation will create the vehicle by which compensatory payments made by PMO (and/or other contributors) will be received and administered in line with the purpose of the Trust. The establishment of the Trust was agreed by ExCo in 2016, subsequently followed by a stakeholder workshop which sought views on the aims, objectives, internal administration and grant making processes of the proposed Trust, which were in turn reflected in the detailed policy document 181/19.

The detailed policy document set out what was intended to be achieved and why, as guided by the outcomes from the stakeholder workshop, and this fed into the legislative drafting process. On Wednesday 28th October 2020, ExCo considered paper 137-20 which accompanied a draft Environment Trust Bill. The Bill aims to enable the policy by setting out appropriate rights and powers, which has been reached through an iterative drafting process.

Whilst the Sea Lion project is currently suspended, and amid a backdrop of global uncertainty due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, DMR consider that it is still important to continue this piece of work through to fruition. The broad purpose of the Trust is in line with the global direction of travel towards committing more to our environment and aspiring to offsetting anthropogenic impacts, achieving positive environmental legacy and benefitting biodiversity. The proposed Environment Trust may attract funding from other industries or sources as the proposed Bill will provide a new mechanism for receiving, managing and awarding funding. Substantial benefits for the Falkland Islands can be realised through good environmental stewardship, and improving sustainability should enhance existing and future industries.

DMR are now entering a further stage of consultation in order to seek feedback on the current Bill. Since the substantive policy has been completed and approved by ExCo, amendments to the legislation will only be made in line with the approved policy, rather than any fundamental changes of direction at this stage. If significant issues are raised during the consultation, DMR may undertake further work and collaboration with stakeholders to fully understand and proactively deal with those issues.

The public consultation will begin today, Monday 2nd November, and will run for four weeks. Written representations must be made by Monday 30th November 2020 to the Department of Mineral Resources, Ross Road, Stanley (or by email to ehancox@mineralresources.gov.fk). If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can download the relevant documents below:

pdfEnvironment Trust Bill for consultation.pdf53.17 KB

pdf137-20P.pdf245.51 KB

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