The EPA Board

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. 

Photograph of EPA Board

EPA Board members from left to right: Alec Brennan, Julie Savet Ward, Barry Buffier, Christine Covington and Chris Knoblanche

 Image of the Chairperson, Barry Buffier

Barry Buffier AM, Chair and CEO

Barry Buffier is the Chair and CEO of the EPA. Mr Buffier has had significant Senior Executive and Board experience in the public and private sectors. This has included roles as Director-General, Department of Primary Industries; Director-General of State and Regional Development and National Manager, Agribusiness at Westpac. He has a Bachelor of Rural Science (Honours) degree and is a Master of Economics. He is a Churchill Fellow and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


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.

Mr Buffier received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in June 2015 for significant service to public administration through senior roles in the environment protection, primary industry, and state development sectors.

Image of Alec Brennan 

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.

 Image of Christine Covington

Christine Covington

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.

Image of Chris Knoblanche 

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.

 Image of Julie Savet Ward

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.

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