Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Chemicals and pesticides

Draft Pesticides Regulation 2017

The EPA is considering submissions made on the draft Pesticides Regulation 2017 and associated regulatory impact statement (RIS).

The draft Regulation and RIS were available for comment commencing 6 June 2017 and closing Friday 7 July 2017.

The Pesticides Act 1999 controls the use of pesticides in NSW and aims to reduce the risks to human health, the environment, property, industry and trade from the use of pesticides. The Act was amended in 2015 to:

  • implement nationally agreed reforms affecting licenced pesticide users
  • enhance protections against pesticide misuse
  • improve administrative provisions.

The Pesticides Regulation 2009 (the Regulation) facilitates these aims by setting out requirements for mandatory pesticide record-keeping, training, licensing and the notification of some pesticide uses.

The Regulation is due for staged repeal on 1 September 2017. In accordance with the Subordinate Legislation Act 1989 a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) (PDF, 766KB) was prepared to assess the proposed Pesticide Regulation 2017.

More details on the proposed changes, including Frequently Asked Questions on the draft Pesticides Regulation 2017 and RIS are provided below. You can also call Environment Line on 131 555 (for the cost of a local call from anywhere in NSW).

What changes were proposed?

Whilst the majority of the provisions in the draft Regulation are proposed to stay the same comments were also sought on a few key changes:

  • streamlining of record keeping requirements for non-licensed pesticide users
  • new licences categories
  • updated licence fees
  • including universities in definition of public authorities required to have a pesticide use notification plan
  • updated penalty amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does the Pesticides Regulation do?

The NSW Pesticides Regulation 2009 provides for:

  • licensing of higher risk pesticide users – (see Question 4)
  • mandatory training – (see Question 5)
  • mandatory record-keeping – (see Question 7)
  • mandatory notification of pesticide use – (see Question 7)
  • penalties (including penalties for offences under the Pesticides Act) and fees for regulated activities
  • administrative matters, notably definitions such as relevant standards for defining prohibited pesticide residuals in agricultural produce.

2. Why is the Regulation being remade?

The Subordinate Legislation Act 1989 provides for the staged repeal of statutory rules, including regulations, every five years.

Postponement of the repeal of the existing Regulation has been allowed until 1 September 2017 because a substantial part of the Regulation was amended in 2015 with the passage of the Pesticides Amendment Bill 2015.

As the Regulation contains provisions that prescribe pesticide user training, record-keeping and the notification of pesticide use (requirements that help to reduce the risks associated with the use of pesticides to human health, the environment, property, industry and trade), it is important that it continues to operate and not be allowed to lapse.

3. Is the proposed new Regulation changing anything?

The EPA is proposing to remake the Regulation, keeping the majority of the provisions in the Regulation unchanged.

In order to make the Regulation easier to read there are some minor changes such as moving the position of definitions, adding headings to clauses and refining the wording and layout but keeping the legal intent unchanged.

There are some more significant changes to provisions to implement national harmonisation agreements and a NSW Government commitment to streamline training obligations for agricultural pesticide users.

In summary, the following changes are proposed:


Additional licence categories, in line with the national harmonised framework. The new licence categories will be:

  • pest management technician business
  • fumigation business
  • ground applicator work
  • ground applicator business
  • pest management technician or fumigator trainee permit.


Retraining option for agricultural users that are members of quality assurance (QA) schemes


Streamlining requirements for non-licensed users, in line with the national harmonised framework.


Including universities in the definition of 'public authorities' and allowing for notices in relation to pesticide use notification plans (comments on draft plans, and notification of finalised plans) to be posted either in newspapers or prominently on the public authority's website.


Update for CPI increases and to reflect the potential gravity of the offence.

Licence Fees

A cost recovery fee structure will be phased in. The cost recovery will support the minimum efficient compliance framework.

4. What are the Regulation's proposed licensing requirements?

The Regulation sets out the licensing categories, licence fees, details the particulars to accompany applications, prescribes the qualifications for the issuing of a licence, and sets out particulars relating to records.

A nationally harmonised licensing framework was determined necessary under the National Framework for the Assessment, Registration and Control-of-Use of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (the National Policy Framework) which was agreed to by all Australian jurisdictions.

No alternative has been identified that would provide the same level of verification of competence, user traceability and compliance accountability. Pesticides are inherently risky substances and the National Framework recognises that licensing should only be required of higher risk users.

The changes that are proposed to the current licensing requirements include a new set of licence categories, in line with the nationally harmonised framework:

  • pest management technician work
  • pest management technician business
  • fumigation work
  • fumigation business
  • ground applicator work
  • ground applicator business
  • aerial applicator pilot work
  • aerial applicator business
  • RPA applicator pilot work
  • RPA applicator business
  • pest management technician or fumigator trainee permit.

It should be noted that the requirement to be licensed as a ground applicator only applies if pesticide use does not fall under the small-use exemption (to be changed to exempt domestic-like use of pesticide) – See Question 9.

A cost-recovery fee structure. Cost recovery will be based on an efficient risk-based compliance program and the fees will be phased into cost recovery by July 2019.

5. What are the Regulation's proposed training requirements?

Most users are expected to achieve specific national units of competency in chemical use at Australian Qualifications Framework Level 3 (AQF 3), unless the small-use exemption (to be changed to exempt domestic-like use of pesticide) applies (see Question 9 for more information).

Your training must be renewed every five years by completing a short refresher course. Separate training requirements apply to licenced pesticide users. For more details about this and the training provisions go to EPA's training webpage.

The changes that are proposed to the current training requirements include:

  • Introducing two pathways for maintaining competency for non-licensed users. Users that are participating in a recognised industry quality assurance (QA) scheme (see Question 6 for more details) would not be required by the Regulation to undertake five-yearly retraining.
  • Requiring all users of Schedule 7 pesticides to reach AQF 3 level competencies, in line with the nationally harmonised framework. Currently the notice of approved competencies issued under the Regulation allows lower literacy users who cannot achieve the level 3 chemical use competencies to achieve the level 2 work under supervision competency - this will no longer be available for using Schedule 7 pesticides because of the risks associated with such products, but will continue to be allowed for other pesticides.

6. Which quality assurance schemes will be recognised?

Once the Regulation is remade the EPA will be liaising with potential quality assurance (QA) scheme organisations regarding possible recognition. QA schemes will be reviewed and assessed on an individual basis. The general principle that will be applied is that the QA scheme must support users maintaining competency which avoids potential pesticides misuse.

The specific QA schemes that are to be recognised will be communicated broadly, specified in an Order published in the NSW Government Gazette which will be updated as necessary.

The EPA welcomes comments on potential schemes to be recognised.

7. What are the Regulation's proposed record-keeping requirements?

Most people who use pesticides in their job or business are required to keep a record of their pesticide use. This does not apply if they meet the small-use exemption (to be changed to exempt domestic-like use of pesticide) - see Question 9 for more information.

For more information about the record keeping provisions, go to EPA's pesticide record-keeping webpage.

The main change to record-keeping that is proposed is to simplify record keeping for the majority of pesticide users.

Non-licensed users would no longer have to record details such as start and finish times, the order in which area of the property was being treated and the equipment used to apply the pesticides, unless such information was explicitly required to be recorded by the approved instructions on the product label of permit. These changes are in line with the nationally harmonised framework.

8. What are the Regulation's proposed requirements for notification of pesticide use?

The following groups are legally required to give notice of pesticide use:

  • Public authorities, including NSW Government departments and local councils need to develop a notification plan describing how they will provide the public with notice about their pesticide use in outdoor public places, such as parks and ovals, and those near sensitive places, such as schools and nursing homes.
  • People who organise a professional pesticide treatment by a pest management technician (urban pest controller) or fumigator in the common areas of multiple occupancy residential complexes need to advise residents prior to pesticide use in these areas. These include property and strata managers and managing agents.
  • Pest management technicians and fumigators who apply pesticides in the common areas of multiple occupancy residential complexes need to give residents notice while they are using pesticides in these areas. Additionally they are required to notify those responsible for sensitive places when they propose to spray or inject liquid pesticides outdoors on an adjoining property.

It is proposed to specifically include electricity network State owned corporations and universities constituted under NSW law (to align with the existing obligation on government schools and TAFE colleges) in the definition of public authorities.

The other change is to allow notification relating to the making of pesticide use notification plans (for public consultation and finalised plans) to be made in newspapers or the organisation's website.

For more information about the notification requirements, go to EPA's pesticide notification webpage.

9. What is the small use exemption/defence?

Currently the record-keeping and training requirements do not apply to the use of pesticides that are:

  • ordinarily used in the home or garden
  • widely available to the general public at retail outlets
  • being applied by hand or using hand-held equipment only
  • being used in small quantities, that is:
    • for outdoors use, in quantities of no more than 5 litres/5 kilograms of concentrated product or 20 litres/20 kilograms of the ready-to-use product
    • for indoors use, in quantities of no more than 1 litre/1 kilogram of concentrated product or 5 litres/5 kilograms of the ready-to-use product.

This does not change with the proposed Regulation, however, this exemption will now be referred to as exempt domestic-like use of pesticide.

This exemption also applies to the requirement for ground sprayers to be licenced. If all of a person's use of pesticides meets all the requirements of the exempt domestic-use of pesticides then a licence is not required.

Page last updated: 12 July 2017