Scott Morrison has denied the permit required for the proposed offshore petroleum exploration permit (PEP-11) between Manly and Newcastle.
In a statement on Wednesday, the prime minister said the response of the group backing the project to a decision by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) had been rejected by the government.
Advent Energy and Bounty Oil and Gas entered a joint venture (JV) to support the drilling project off the Sydney coastline in a proposed area spanning 4,500 square kilometres.
“I have made the decision under section 59(3) of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 to propose to refuse the application,” Morrison said.
“As a result, I have written to New South Wales Deputy Premier Paul Toole, as the joint authority partner, advising of the government’s proposed decision.”
Independent MP Zali Steggall has been a vocal opponent of the offshore drilling project, introducing a bill in parliament last year to see that the controversial PEP-11 infrastructure would not be permitted to be constructed.
“The coastline around PEP 11 is home to millions of Australians, whose lifestyle and livelihood relies on a healthy ocean,” Steggall said.
“We need to stop the push for gas production off our coast.”
Steggall’s anti-PEP-11 campaign enjoyed the support of surfing athletes Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll, Ace Buchan and Belinda Baggs, as well as the Surfrider Foundation Australia.
In a statement, Beachley said she was concerned about the impact of offshore drilling on known whale migration routes, the marine ecosystem and local tourism.
“I would hate to see oil or gas rigs on the most beautiful horizon on the Earth.
“I’m wholeheartedly in support of Zali’s Bill to end PEP11 and if there’s any politician out there who knows what’s right for future generations, for our environment and for our economy, then they should support it as well,” Beachley said.
An online petition calling for the JV permit to be denied has garnered more than 80,000 signatures.
NOPTA issued the JV a notice of intention to refuse last December and the company had 30 days to respond to the notice.
Toole now has 30 days to respond to the federal government’s latest decision himself, after which time the final decision will be official.