About EPA board members
The current Board members have expertise in environmental law and science, corporate, financial and risk planning and management, as well as established ties to business and community groups.
Mark Gifford PSM, Acting Chair and CEO
Mark Gifford has been A/g Chair and CEO of the EPA since 9 January 2018.
Mr Gifford has over 33 years of experience in government, 18 of which have been in environment-related agencies.
In his substantive role as Chief Environmental Regulator Mr Gifford oversees the EPA’s regulatory policies, practices and outcomes, particularly in regard to the environmental impacts from major industrial activities, including air and water quality, noise and the regulation of gas and forestry activities.
Mr Gifford has made significant improvements in areas such as environment protection licensing and legislation. He led the government’s reforms to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to improve industry performance and public reporting, and the updating and modernising of the EPA. He oversees the EPA’s current forestry reforms and implementation of the Government’s role for the EPA under the NSW Gas Plan. Mr Gifford has significant experience in national regulatory harmonisation including the continuous review of the EPA’s regulatory approach and significant reforms to ensure effective, efficient and credible regulation.
Mr Gifford has a Bachelor of Business (Public Administration) and is Chair of the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network. He was awarded a Public Service Medal for services to environmental protection in June 2015.
Under Section 19 of the POEA Act, the Chair is charged with the responsibility of managing and controlling the affairs of the EPA, in accordance with the policies determined by the Board and any other decisions of the Board, but subject to any directions of the Minister under the POEA Act.
The Chair is also the presiding member of the Board.
Alec Brennan AM
Mr Brennan brings to the EPA Board 40 years' experience in business across a range of industries including manufacturing, resources and distribution. He has been public company director for more than 20 years and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Mr Brennan has a BSc (Honours) Food Technology, UNSW; and an MBA (Distinction), City UK. He currently chairs publicly-listed mining services company Emeco Holdings Limited and is a director of several private companies. Mr Brennan is Pro Chancellor of Sydney University and chairs two Senate committees, the Finance and Audit Committee and the Human Resources Committee. He is also involved in a number of other not-for-profit activities. He brings to the Board extensive business experience in areas such as strategy, process management, governance, finance and risk management.
Mr Brennan also sits on the EPA Finance Audit and Risk Committee.
Mr Brennan received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in 2013 for significant service to business and commerce, to tertiary education administration, and to the community.
Ms Covington is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW. She has over 28 years' experience in environmental, planning and property law. She is currently the National Practice Group Leader of the Environment and Planning Group at the law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth. She has served as a NSW Government appointee to the Central Sydney Planning Committee. Christine has experience in working with local governments and on community engagements. She also has extensive experience in the NSW Land and Environment Court and the Supreme Court in planning appeals and environmental prosecutions.
Chris Knoblanche AM
Mr Knoblanche is a company director on various boards. Most recently he was a Senior Advisor, Corporate and Investment Banking, Australia and New Zealand for Citigroup. He has been advising local and multinational companies for over 34 years in areas such as corporate strategy, financing, risk control and management. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Financial Management) degree, is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants. He has held key Board positions and in 2001 was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government for service to Australian society through business and the arts.
In June 2014, Chris was honoured as a member in the general division of the Order of Australia for significant service to arts administration, to the community, and to the business and finance sector.
Mr Knoblanche is also the Chair of the EPA Finance Audit and Risk Committee.
Julie Savet Ward
Ms Savet Ward has a Bachelor of Science (Applied Physical Geography) (Honours) degree, is a Master of Landscape Planning and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ms Savet Ward has 27 years' experience in science, planning and the environment. She has particular expertise in the regulatory environment for sustainability and a deep understanding of the planning, approval, design, construction and delivery of infrastructure, property and natural resource projects. She has particular skills in brokering and managing relationships between government and the community. Ms Savet Ward is the Chairperson of a charity and a private consulting company.
Functions of the EPA Board
The EPA Board:
determines the EPA's policies and long-term strategic plans
oversees management of the EPA
determines when the EPA should prosecute for serious environment protection offences under the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991
produces guidelines about criminal prosecutions and related legal proceedings
advises the NSW Minister for the Environment on any matter relating to the protection of the environment
provides the NSW Minister for the Environment with an annual statement about its performance as the leading NSW environmental regulator.
Disclosure of interest
For more information about the EPA’s governance, including rules about disclosure and conduct, see the see the EPA Annual Report.