Healthy businesses, communities and environments are at the heart of what we do at the NSW EPA and support our ambition to be a world class regulator. How we work, regulate and respond to environmental events have been challenged throughout 2020–21. The challenges of operating in a COVID-19 environment have strengthened our drive for innovation and excellence and activate all the regulatory tools available to us.
Despite these constraints, we have delivered positive outcomes for the environment, and communities across NSW. Here are some key highlights from 2020–21:
- implementing modern regulatory approaches and systems outlined in the Regulatory Strategy, Digital Transformation Strategy and Data roadmap
- securing the future of environmental regulation through a 10-year funding horizon enabling the EPA to look to the future
- championing regulatory reform to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. This includes the PFAS ban and Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041
- leveraging our role in environmental emergency management to be a key partner with other NSW agencies in recovery efforts and clean-up after major environmental events
- regularly listening to and learning from our communities through open and honest engagement. These include Aboriginal communities, the Waste Advisory Group, the Local Government Advisory Group and roadshows
- focusing on our most important asset, our people, through the delivery of our Workforce Strategy, making sure wellbeing and safety are paramount and embedded in our culture.
Looking to the future
This year we have come together as an organisation that is always looking ahead and shaping our role in enhancing and protecting the environment. Our new strategic plan was developed to address some of the key environmental challenges we face in NSW and where we can have the biggest impact.
Over the next three years, we will continue to find evidence and science-based solutions to some of our most formidable challenges including climate change, ecologically sustainable development, water quality, waste, and legacy and emerging contaminants.
We will take a proactive, protective approach to make sure our land, air and water are future-proofed and enhanced for our children and generations to come.
Our core business will remain focused on protecting, restoring and enhancing the quality of the environment in NSW, preventing its degradation and reducing risks to human health. We aim to be a better regulator, always taking a holistic, outcomes-focused approach to how we operate. We will collaborate with universities and industry to continue to plan for, prepare for and respond to climate and pollution emergencies. We will better anticipate what is approaching over the horizon and develop plans and programs to meet these challenges.
Our commitment, as an organisation striving to be a world class regulator, is to bring a learning mindset to what we do and continue to be responsive and adaptive with an outcomes-focused lens to all we do.
I thank all our staff, the community and stakeholders for working with us to protect the community and the environment in NSW for current and future generations.
Letter of submission
The Hon Matt Kean MP Treasurer, and Minister for Energy and Environment 52 Martin Place Sydney NSW 2000
I am pleased to submit the Annual Report 2020–21 for the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
This report was prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Act 1984 and Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Regulation 2015.
This annual report must be presented in both Houses of Parliament within one month of receipt.
Chief Executive Officer
NSW Environment Protection Authority
Letter from the Chair
I am pleased to present the EPA Annual Report and accompanying Board’s regulatory assurance statement for 2020–21. The Board’s statement provides an opportunity for the Board to reflect on the EPA’s performance and the performance of industry over the financial year.
As the State’s primary environmental regulator, the EPA faces complex challenges in reducing risks to human health and preventing environmental degradation. Many of these challenges, such as the effects of climate change, and transitioning towards a circular economy that uses resources more efficiently and generates less waste, have social and economic causes which extend beyond our state and national borders. In taking on these challenges, the Board strongly supports the EPA’s shift to becoming a world class regulator, and notes the focus areas identified in the new EPA Strategic Plan 2021 under which the EPA is taking action to be the courageous voice of the environment.
In assessing the performance of the EPA and industry this year, the Board has considered the results of a range of EPA programs and measures and has tracked the EPA’s progress towards implementing last year’s recommendations from the Board.
These included progressing the regulatory review, enhancing data capabilities, resetting native forestry regulatory practice, updating prosecution guidelines, increasing the EPA’s preparedness for emergencies, and engaging with industry.
One of the key attributes of a world class regulator is a learning mindset. In its assessment, the EPA Board has considered the extent to which the EPA has shared and learnt from the experiences of regulators in other jurisdictions. It has also monitored the EPA’s strong progress in engaging with its stakeholders and in forging networks and partnerships to deliver environmental protection outcomes. It is by working with the community, and with industry, that we can achieve the best environmental outcomes for NSW.
Rayne de Gruchy AM PSM
Chairperson of the Authority