NSTA tries to block documents revealing Shell’s activities in the North Sea

The National Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) is trying to block the release of documents covering Shell’s North Sea activities.

As reported by the Guardian, the five documents are reported to contain details about the pollution risk from decommissioning Brent oilfield, which was operated by Shell for more than 40 years, the oil fields environmental appraisal, as well as technical documents relating to radioactive sediment and toxic drill cuttings.

The NSTA is expected to argue against publishing the information at a hearing in December “on a matter of process basis.”

Campaigners are concerned that the documents would reveal new information about long-term damaging affects that is related to North Sea explorations, including Equinor’s Rosebank.

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WWF Scotland director Lang Banks told the Guardian that is is an “absolute farce” that the NSTA is spending “public money on lawyers” to try and block documents that should have been public “a long time ago.”

“If they are prepared to use these documents as part of the planning and the licensing process then they should also be prepared to make them public.”

Last month, Sky News reported that campaigners are concerned about the “cosy” relationship between the NSTA and fossil fuel companies.

Uplift executive director Tessa Khan said: “It is the NSTA’s job to make unbiased, evidence-based decisions on whether or not to approve new oil and gas fields yet, astonishingly, we find it’s been colluding with industry lobbyists on how to best make the case for new drilling.

“This casts doubt on how seriously the regulator is taking its role of helping the UK meet its climate obligations. The proposed Rosebank oil field, for example, is incompatible with the regulator’s own climate targets, but will the NSTA say ‘no’ to an industry it is clearly so cosy with?,” Khan added.

“The UK urgently needs a regulator that is genuinely independent of the oil and gas industry.”

Shell said: “Shell submits documents as part of a process which is tightly controlled by the regulator, in full knowledge that they will be published in due course. The manner and timing of this is a matter for the regulator.”

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