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. 

Carolyn Walsh, Acting Chair

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Carolyn is a specialist in industry policy, safety, risk and regulation, with 35 years experience.

Carolyn consults to government and the private sector on regulation, safety and risk management, and has previously worked with the NSW Environment Protection Authority on risk and regulation. Other clients have included Transport for NSW, BHP and the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

She is the Chair and Commissioner of the National Transport Commission and Commissioner at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau; she is the Chair or a member of a number of audit and risk committees including for the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and Ministry of Health.

In the wake of the 2003 rail tragedy at Waterfall, Carolyn led a project team to establish the Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator and was its Chief Executive from January 2004 until May 2009.

Carolyn has represented the Australian and NSW Governments in national and international fora, including as Minister-Counsellor Industry, Science and Technology at the High Commission in London from 1996-99.

Carolyn has a Bachelor of Economics and qualifications in risk management and auditing, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mark Gifford, PSM, Acting Chief Executive Officer

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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.

Chris Knoblanche AM

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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 a member of the EPA Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Julie Savet Ward

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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 over 30 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.


Elizabeth Wild

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Ms Wild is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW. She holds a Master of Environmental Law, and has over 25 years' experience in environmental law. Ms Wild is currently a Partner and Board member of the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. She is also a member of the Law Society of NSW, and a member of the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association.

Ms Wild has particular expertise managing issues relating to contaminated land and remediation law. Her understanding of the various contaminated land regulatory systems across Australia has enabled her to provide strategic advice to a range of private sector, Commonwealth and State government clients. Ms Wild is also an expert in pollution law and has assisted clients in managing potential and actual environmental incidents. This depth of experience has given her a unique insight into the regulatory framework against which government agencies and departments operate.

Michael Rennie

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Mr Rennie is a Rhodes Scholar, holding a Master of Arts from Oxford University, as well as bachelor’s degrees in Jurisprudence (Honours) and Law. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Rennie was CEO of McKinsey & Company in Australia and New Zealand for five years and a member of the Global Board of the firm until his retirement in late 2017. He has worked extensively for many of Australia’s large industrial companies, as well as mining, oil and gas, telecommunications and government.

As a reflection of his strong interest in environmental issues, Mr Rennie was the founding sponsor of McKinsey’s environment practice in Australia.

He is Deputy Chairman of the Centre for Independent Studies, and board member of the Australian talent ecosystem technology company Livehire

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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