About the NSW EPA

Our organisation

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the primary environmental regulator for New South Wales. We partner with business, government and the community to reduce pollution and waste, protect human health, and prevent degradation of the environment.

We encourage businesses to make sure their activities do not harm the environment and human health by:

  • issuing environment protection licences
  • requiring strict operating conditions and pollution reduction programs
  • monitoring compliance with licence conditions and investigating pollution reports
  • ordering the clean-up of pollution
  • imposing fines or prosecuting organisations and individuals who break the law.

We also:

  • respond to and manage pollution incidents involving hazardous materials (in collaboration with other government agencies)
  • develop and inform environmental programs and policy
  • deliver education and awareness programs
  • support activities that protect the environment with grants and sponsorships
  • provide technical support and expertise to other government agencies.

Our work is informed by scientific evidence and consultation with stakeholders. The EPA Strategic Plan sets out our work priorities and key results areas (See ‘Our Performance’). The plan is updated each year to reflect changes in focus and emerging issues.

Our History

The EPA was established in 1991 under the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 (POEA Act). The EPA built a strong reputation over the next decade as an effective and innovative environmental regulator.

In 2003, the EPA was incorporated, with other environment-related agencies, into a new Department of Environment and Conservation, reflecting a shift in government priorities from pollution prevention to conservation.

In 2011, a major pollution incident at Kooragang Island in Newcastle catalysed the NSW Government into reprioritising pollution prevention and regulation. In February 2012, the EPA was re-established as an independent authority with a clearly defined mandate and enhanced powers.

Since 2012 the EPA has been working towards developing the full set of capacities required to meet its mandate and increasing independence from services provided by OEH.

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