What's new in law

Recent significant changes to legislation administered by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and related topics are listed below. Links to the text of the new Act, Regulation or Bill are provided where available (obtained from the NSW legislation or NSW Parliament websites).

  • For a list of legislation administered by EPA, see legislation.
  • See the Glossary for explanations of these terms: assent, Bill, gazette.

September 2017

Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2017

The Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2008 with updates to fees for environmentally hazardous licences and technology assessments.

Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 with changes to:

  • update provisions relating to heavy vehicles that are now regulated under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW)
  • improve flexibility for compliance with the labelling and limit provisions for noisy equipment by allowing European Union labelled outdoor power equipment to be sold in NSW without additional labelling and adopting an international noise metric
  • move the technical procedures for testing noise from motor vehicles and outdoor power equipment to the Approved Methods for Testing Noise Emissions
  • formalise existing testing procedures for determining noise levels from shooting ranges
  • make minor changes to definitions and remove obsolete provisions.

Pesticides Regulation 2017

The Pesticides Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Pesticides Regulation 2009 with changes to:

  • introduce licensing requirements for individuals carrying out ground applicator work and requires pest management technician trainees and fumigator trainees to obtain a trainee permit from the EPA. These changes start on 1 July 2018
  • update fees for licence applications and renewals
  • provide non-licenced pesticides users with alternative training options to maintain pesticide user competency
  • simplify and streamline record keeping requirements for non-licenced pesticides users
  • require universities, from 1 July 2018, to prepare pesticides notification plans for pesticide use in public places and use pesticides in accordance with those plans
  • update the penalty amounts for penalty notice offences.

June 2017

The Protection of the Environment Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2017 makes a series of amendments to the

Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 to update investigation powers by adopting powers under Chapter 7 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (POEO Act) and the methods for the service of documents.

Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 to remove the Hunter and Illawarra Regional Environment Protection Community Consultation Forums and the NSW Council on Environmental Education.

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to

  • Replace the requirement for newspaper advertising with a requirement to publish details of licence reviews on the Environment Protection Authority’s website and on the Public Register
  • Extend the limitation period for groundwater offences and repeat waste offences from one year to three years
  • Explicitly provide for the use of remotely piloted aircraft for the purposes of investigating activities regulated by the EPA, to ensure evidence collected can be used to support prosecutions and other regulatory actions but only if operated or accompanied by an authorised officer
  • Remove the class of ‘supervisory licences’, which are held by local councils for privately owned and operated putrescible waste facilities
  • Change licences for transporting trackable waste from being issued on a perpetual basis to fixed terms of not more than five years to align these licences with Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008 licences
  • Ensure that Global Positioning System devices can be installed on trailers attached to trucks, as well as to trucks, for waste transporters

Radiation Control Act 1990 as follows

  • Allow prosecutions to be heard in the Land and Environment Court (rather than the Supreme Court) consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Allow the Land and Environment court to hear appeals against EPA decisions under the Radiation Control Act and the associated regulation consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Remove the requirement for the Minister’s approval to commence prosecutions consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed by Local Courts for offences under the Act and the Regulation from 100 penalty units ($11,000) to 200 penalty units ($22,000)
  • Remove the statutory cap on penalty notice amounts, consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Extend the limitation period for offences under the Act from one year to two years

Most of the provisions of the Act commenced on assent, however, those provisions relating to trackable waste licences and use of remotely piloted aircraft will commence on proclamation at a later date. 

March 2017

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Amendment Regulation 2016 (the Amendment Regulation) (PDF 244KB), which commenced on 16 March 2017, implements recommended changes to the Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Regulation 2002 arising from its statutory ten-year review. The primary amendment is increased flood flow thresholds under clause 11, which addresses the risk of the scheme salinity targets being exceeded during flood flows. The remaining amendments are of a minor nature (i.e. mechanical, administrative and tidy-up amendments), to improve clarity and consistency, and to remove repetition and redundant clauses. Find out more about the review of the Regulation.

February 2015

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Newcastle Air Monitoring) Regulation 2015 (PDF 197KB) makes provision for the establishment of the Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network. The Regulation includes provisions to

  • Require holders of environment protection licences in the Newcastle local government area to pay a levy towards the cost of the monitoring program
  • Calculate the amount of the levy payable by those licence holders
  • Require licence holders to provide the EPA with information about emissions
  • Allow persons authorised by the EPA to enter land owned or occupied by licence holders for the purposes of the operation of the monitoring program
  • Require the EPA to make air quality data available on its website and to publicly report on the monitoring program

Find out more about the Newcastle Air Monitoring Regulation at the Commencement of Newcastle Local Air Quality Network Regulation webpage.

December 2014

  • The Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Regulation 2014 came into effect on 19 December 2014.
    This Regulation amends the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to ensure that all petroleum activities are regulated consistently. It requires all petroleum exploration, assessment and production activities to hold an Environment Protection Licence issued by the EPA, provides a new administrative fee scale for this activity, and requires operators licenced for this activity to pay load-based fees on specific assessable pollutants when the annual production capacity exceeds 0.5 petajoules. Find out more about the Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Regulation 2014.
  • The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2014 makes a series of amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (the POEO Act), the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) and the Radiation Control Act 1990 to strengthen and align environmental penalties and alternative sentencing options. The Act also makes miscellaneous amendments to the POEO Act and the CLM Act to support timely and cost-effective enforcement by the EPA, and to the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. Find out more about the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2014.

October 2014

August 2014

  • The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Fees and Penalty Notices) Regulation 2014 increases penalty notice amounts for some offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 by amending the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009. The Fees and Penalty Notices Regulation will increase penalty notice amounts to be proportionate to the seriousness, harm and nature of an offence. This Regulation will also prescribe additional staff as enforcement officers, include two-fee-based waste processing activities on Schedule 1 of the General Regulation that are currently listed in Schedule 1 of the POEO Act, and make other changes of a machinery nature to the General Regulation. Find out more about the Fees and Penalty Notices Regulation.

July 2014

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

September 2013

September 2012

  • The Protection of the Environment Administration Regulation 2012 remakes the Protection of the Environment Administration Regulation 2005 with no amendments. The Regulation makes provision for members of the Board of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to make disclosures of interests as required by clause 7(3) of Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. In particular, the Regulation sets out requirements relating to the time that disclosures should be made and the form of such disclosures; prescribes the types of interests to be disclosed, including interests in real property, sources of outside income, gifts, contributions to travel, interests and positions in corporations, positions in associations, debts and dispositions of property; and includes requirements for keeping a Register of Disclosures by members of the Board and for inspecting the register. This Regulation is administered by the EPA.

February and March 2012

The NSW Government introduced the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). The new provisions came into force in February and March 2012.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Pollution Incident Response Management Plans) Regulation 2012 amends the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to prescribe certain matters relating to the form, content, testing and availability of pollution incident response management plans. The Amendment Regulation commenced on 29 February 2012. You can find further information about pollution incident response management plans here.

The changes to the POEO Act include

  • if there is a pollution incident, all relevant authorities have to be notified immediately
  • the maximum penalty for failing to notify a pollution incident (in accordance with the POEO Act) has been doubled to $2 million
  • licensees have to prepare and implement pollution incident response management plans
  • licensees have to publish monitoring results or otherwise make them available to the public
  • in certain instances, the EPA and Ministry of Health can require payment for analysing the human health and environmental risks arising from an incident
  • the EPA has greater powers to require a mandatory environmental audit
  • industry has to provide more information to the public, and make this available online

The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 page provides further details on these new requirements.

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