Our performance at a glance

The EPA is committed to the NSW State Outcome which is to connect communities to resilient and sustainable energy and local environments. To do this, we have developed a new regulatory approach to shift our focus from not only managing harm when it occurs, to looking at better ways to prevent harm or reduce risks to the environment or human health in the future. The EPA has a balanced regulatory approach with a number of elements. We consider these elements as a whole and individually. We may use one or more of these elements at the same time, in any combination or in any series (depending on the individual circumstances or the type of environmental issue). We use a fit-for-purpose approach.

Environment

Protection

Authority

We continued to lead in protecting air, waterways, land and the health of the community for the future We worked with communities, government and business to reduce the impacts on the environment We held people and organisations accountable through licensing, monitoring, regulation and enforcement

Listen

Educate

Enable

We engaged with 170 licensees and over 80 councils through genuine in-person conversations at our state wide roadshow forums  We informed the waste industry and local councils of changes to operations after the bushfires and during the COVID-19 pandemic, with targeted communications and programs  We made it possible for the community to improve their waste and recycling through over $33 million in grant funding for programs and projects such as Bin Trim 

Act

Enforce

Monitor

We led a multi-agency response in the NSW flood recovery to manage the clean-up of over 1,000 km of shorelines and support affected communities

We undertook 66 prosecutions for pollution offences resulting in 53 convictions, tackling issues such as illegal dumping, littering and contaminated sites

We installed air monitoring devices at a Sydney landfill that was found to have odours affecting the community, and published the data on our website             

Require

Influence

Respond

We focused on forestry regulation and increased our presence on the ground, and conducted 120 inspections which resulted in commencing ten prosecutions We continued to drive behaviour change through our Don’t be a tosser campaign which has reached 88% of the population and contributed to a 43% reduction in litter volume in NSW since its launch              We adopted new intelligent state-of-the-art digital systems, software and technology to support timely responses to incidents

Our challenges

  • COVID-19 placed major constraints on how we operated as an organisation. It disrupted our internal processes and the way we delivered programs and impacted on how we engaged with our stakeholders. With most staff working from home, it also meant many staff events had to be conducted virtually, which reduced networking opportunities.
  • Extreme rainfall on the east coast of Australia in March 2021 led to widespread flooding in NSW, affecting regions from the North Coast to the Sydney metropolitan area in the south. The EPA responded by quickly assessing risks and providing an emergency response to communities and impacted ecosystems. This was on top of our ongoing response to the 2019–20 bushfires from the previous year.
  • Catastrophic weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic meant that we needed to adapt the way we regulate, be flexible and change our regulatory practices in response to these challenges (e.g. changing inspection regimes or reporting deadlines or providing new guidance and processes); while still ensuring we were engaging the community and regulated community, using data, intelligence and insights to inform our decision making and retaining regulatory oversight.
  • As the State’s primary environmental regulator, we continue to work with complex issues that span local, state and national boundaries. This provides challenges and opportunities to collaborate with multiple stakeholders with competing interests, while protecting human health, stopping the degradation of the environment, ensuring sustainable development, and reducing pollution and waste.
view up into the canopy of gum trees

View of a tree canopy. Photo: Brent Mail Photography/EPA

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