About the NSW EPA

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.

Our 30th anniversary

2022 marks our 30th anniversary protecting the environment and our communities in NSW.

Over the past 30 years we have seen the EPA be a leader through its laws in environmental protection when it was first set up in 1991, then in 2012 when it once again became in independent authority, through the Protection of the Environment Operations Act.

This year, we have again seen new protections for our community, against environmental crime, pass through the NSW Parliament. These new laws have made the EPA stronger, better equipped to tackle criminal behaviour, and more independent.

We have an exciting future ahead, with the new Strategic Plan establishing a proactive and protective approach to ensure our environment is future-proofed for our children and generations to come.

This video reflects on some of our key moments, offering insights into how we started, what we faced and the environmental and community outcomes we achieved together.

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