Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022

Information about the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022 which came into force on 16 December 2022. It is the key regulatory mechanism in NSW for reducing emissions of harmful pollutants in the air.

Key changes to the Clean Air Regulation include

  • requiring cleaner, lower volatility petrol to be supplied for an extra month over summer to reduce ozone
  • stricter emission limits and controls for volatile organic liquids in storage tanks, loading plant and tank vehicles  
  • requiring older activities and plant - which started operating or were upgraded between 1979 and 1997 - to comply with more stringent air emission standards.

The Regulation was on public consultation from 6 May 2022 to 3 June 2022.

Part 2: Domestic solid fuel heaters

The EPA administers the requirements of the Regulation for wood heaters.

There are no major changes to the provisions for wood heaters as part of the 2022 remake of the Regulation as the latest and strictest emission and efficiency limits took effect from 1 September 2019 and continue to apply.

Local councils manage wood smoke from wood heaters. Find more information on managing wood smoke.

Requirements for solid fuel heaters

Each heater sold in NSW must have a certificate of compliance certifying that the heater model has been tested in accordance with the Australian Standards and each heater must be marked accordingly.

The Regulation also prohibits a person from tampering with heaters or from marking on a heater that it complies with the Standard if there is no relevant certificate of compliance in force.

Part 3: Control of burning

There are no major changes to provisions for the control of burning as part of the 2022 remake of the Regulation as the existing controls for burning under the Regulation are current and effective.

The Regulation was amended in April 2021 to reflect changes to council boundaries following amalgamation of some councils. Some councils chose  to update their Schedule 1 listings, setting out what can be burned in their local areas.

Councils may be listed in one or more parts of Schedule 1

Schedule 1 of the Regulation lists local government areas in which burning is prohibited. A council can choose which Part or Parts of Schedule 1 will apply to their local government areas. The three Parts provide different levels of control of burning:

  • Part 1 – no burning, including of any domestic waste or vegetation, is allowed in a local government area unless approved by the EPA
  • Part 2 – no burning is allowed in a local government area, except burning of vegetation approved by the council, for example, council may approve the burning of vegetation grown on rural lots that do not have green waste collection
  • Part 3 – other than vegetation, no burning is allowed in a local government area unless approved by the EPA, for example, where there is no domestic waste collection service.

The EPA encourages listing of councils under Schedule 1, however it is voluntary. If a council does not list under any part of Schedule 1, burning of anything not specifically prohibited by the Regulation (that is, tyres, paint and solvent containers and treated timber) could occur in that local government area. This includes household waste and vegetation. However, there is a general requirement under section 9 of the Regulation that a person burning anything in the open or an incinerator must use all practicable means to prevent or minimise air pollution.

A council can be added to or change its existing listing in Parts 1, 2 or 3 of Schedule 1 by

  • a formal proceeding and approval by a majority of council members, or
  • a decision made under a delegation, for example, by the General Manager.

Councils must also advise the EPA in writing of the change to their Schedule 1 listings so we can arrange for the Regulation to be amended for the listing to take effect.

Part 4: Motor vehicles

  • Heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes have been excluded from the requirements for excessively smoky vehicles and installation and maintenance of anti-pollution devices on motor vehicles.
    This is because the Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation 2013, administered in NSW by Transport for NSW, has the same requirements for heavy vehicles relating to emissions of smoke and the removal, disconnection or impairment of anti-pollution devices.
    This change will not impact motor vehicle emissions regulation in NSW.
  • The division of the Regulation covering the vapour pressure of petrol has been moved from Part 4 to Part 8 of the Regulation.

Part 5: Air impurities emitted from activities and plant

Plant and activities on scheduled premises currently classified in Groups 3 and 4 of the Regulation (which commenced operation between 1 July 1979 and 1 August 1997) will be moved to the stricter air emission standards of Group 5 by 1 November 2027 and Group 6 by 1 November 2030.

Effects on activities and plant in Groups 3 and 4 

Many of the Group 3 and 4 activities and plant have already upgraded their pollution control equipment under their licence conditions and pollution reduction programs. Some licence holders may only need to demonstrate that their equipment already meets the Group 5 or Group 6 emission standards. For other licence holders, equipment upgrades may be needed to meet requirements. There are several options for licence holders to meet requirements.

If an upgrade is not required  → Demonstrate equipment meets requirements (e.g. emission testing results, equipment specification, etc)

 

 → Action Notify EPA before transition timeframes and licence varied
         
 
If an upgrade is required

 →
Sections 44 and 45
meet Group 5 by 1 November 2027 and Group 6 by 1 November 203
Action Upgrade(s) by specified timeframes
 
 →
Section 44(5)
Commit to meeting Group 6 by 1 November 2030 to by-pass requirements for Group 5 
Action Notify EPA by 1 May 2027 and licence varied with conditions
 →
Section 46
scheduled premise will close and not subjected to a licence after 1 November 2030
Action Notify EPA by 1 May 2027, exempt from transition requirements
 →
Section 48
Application for variation to include legacy and other conditions in licence
Action Application made 12 months before requirements come into effect
 

Options for meeting the requirements

The phased transition approach for older activities and plant to the more stringent emission standards provides a structured path to upgrade. It aims to promote environmental performance and provide greater certainty for new investment with sufficient lead times for industry to purchase and implement upgrades. There is also a transparent process for seeking alternative emission limits where upgrades are not economically feasible. Some options offer a more streamlined approach for licence holders already working to improve environmental outcomes or transitioning to a low carbon economy under other government initiatives.

Licence variations

Applications for a licence variation under section 48 of the Regulation must be received by the EPA 12 months before the day on which the condition is required. For example, to retain legacy conditions before Group 5 requirements come into effect, an application must be made by 1 November 2026.  It is up to industry to demonstrate their emissions have acceptable impacts on the community and the environment and to meet their licence limits in a cost-efficient manner, including through the requirement to provide an air pollutant impact assessment with any application for a licence variation to include a legacy condition.

Section 49 of the Regulation requires the EPA to consider in its determination the impact of a licence variation on local and regional air quality and amenity, with regard to existing pollution reduction programs, control equipment, any load reduction agreements, the principles of ecologically sustainable development (including economic factors) and any other relevant matters. Variations may be renewed for five years.

Part 6: Volatile organic liquids – tanks and loading plant and
Part 7: Volatile organic liquids – large tanker trucks

  • More stringent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission limits and control equipment requirements have been introduced which are reflective of available control technology and practice for volatile organic liquids (VOLs) in storage tanks and loading plants.
  • From 1 July 2024, control equipment requirements for tanks and loading plant (Part 6) and large tanker trucks (Part 7) will apply to an expanded area.

Expansion of the control area for storage tanks, loading plants and tanker trucks

The control area is being expanded from the Sydney metropolitan area to cover areas with large populations where high levels of ozone in summer months have been recorded. Populations and commercial and industrial activity, including major fuel distribution facilities, are growing in these areas. Controlling volatile organic liquid-related air emissions will help reduce VOCs which contribute to ozone formation.

The expanded control area will be the same as the stage one vapour recovery zone in which controls are required to capture VOCs from petrol service stations. This includes

  • the Sydney metropolitan area and the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly
  • the Central Coast metropolitan area
  • the Illawarra region, including Wollongong and the local government areas of Kiama, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven
  • the Lower Hunter region, including Newcastle and the local government areas of Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens.

Part 8: Petrol

The division of the Regulation covering vapour recovery at service stations has been moved from Part 6 to Division 2, Part 8 of the Regulation. The summer petrol volatility period has been extended to 1 November to 31 March to better align with the period in which hotter temperatures occur and increase the amount of evaporative volatile organic compound emissions.

No changes to Stage 1 and Stage 2 vapour recovery at service stations were proposed as vapour recovery controls have been fully implemented across the metropolitan areas of NSW.

Part 9: Sulfur in liquid fuel

The provisions covering sulfur in liquid fuel have been moved from Part 5 to Part 9 of the Regulation.

Minor changes include

  • amending the method for determining the sulfur content in liquid fuel from TM-6 to ASTM D5453.
  • aligning the requirements for the sulfur content of liquid fuel with the Commonwealth Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000.

New 2022 Regulation section

Previous 2021 Regulation clause

Part 1 - Preliminary

1

Name of Regulation

1

Name of Regulation

2

Commencement

2

Commencement

3

Definitions

3

Definitions

Part 2 – Domestic solid fuel heaters – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6A

4

Definitions

4

Definitions

5

Heaters to which Part applies

5

Application of Part

6

Sale of heaters - certificates of compliance

6

Requirement for certificates of compliance when heaters are sold

7

Interference with heaters

7

Interference with heaters

Part 3 – Control of burning – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6

Division 1 - Preliminary

-

8

Definitions

8

Application of Part

9

Application of Part

Division 2 – Obligation to prevent air pollution

9

General obligation to prevent or minimise pollution

10

General obligation to prevent or minimise air pollution

Division 3 – Burning certain prohibited items

10

Prohibition on burning certain prohibited items

11

Prohibition on burning certain articles

11

Approval granted to public authority by EPA

11

Prohibition on burning certain articles

Division 4 – Controls for local government area

12

Prohibition of burning in particular local government areas

12

 

Offences

 

13

Authorised burning of domestic waste

14

Authorised burning for recreation purposes

15

Authorised burning of vegetation for agricultural operations

16

Authorised burning for bush fire hazard reduction and training fire fighters

17

Authorised burning – incinerators and flares

18

Authorised burning under approval

13

Approval for certain fires or incinerators

Part 4 – Motor vehicles – the Act, Sch 2, cll 4 and 6B

Division 1 - Preliminary

19

Definitions

14

Definitions

Division 2 – Air impurities

20

Excessive air impurities – Act, s 154

15

Excessive air impurities

21

Motor vehicles emitting excessive air impurities

16

Motor vehicles emitting excessive air impurities

22

Exemption – selling motor vehicle that emits excessive air impurities – Act, s 286

20

Exemption from offence relating to sale of motor vehicles

Division 3 – Prescribed anti-pollution devices – Act, s 154

23

Prescribed anti-pollution devices – general

17

Prescribed anti-pollution devices

24

Requirement to fit prescribed anti-pollution device – Act, ss 156, 157, and 160

-

 

25

Prescribed anti-pollution device – evaporative emission control system

17

 

Prescribed anti-pollution devices

26

Prescribed anti-pollution device – fuel supply system

27

Prescribed anti-pollution device – engine ignition system

28

Prescribed anti-pollution device – engine management system

29

Prescribed anti-pollution device – smoke-limiting throttle control system

30

Prescribed anti-pollution device – exhaust gas recirculation system

31

Prescribed anti-pollution device – catalytic converter system

32

Prescribed anti-pollution device – particulate filter

-

 

33

Prescribed anti-pollution device – manufacturer’s devices

-

 

34

Prescribed anti-pollution device – complying exhaust pipe

17(h)

18

Prescribed anti-pollution devices

Fitting of certain anti-pollution devices to be compulsory

Division 4 – Provisions about prescribed anti-pollution devices

 

35

Complying exhaust pipe not required for certain vehicles

19

Complying exhaust pipe not required for certain vehicles

36

Complying exhaust pipe must be free of holes

21

Maintenance of vehicles

37

Prescribed anti-pollution device must be properly serviced or repaired – Act, s 158

23

Maintenance, service and adjustment of motor vehicles

38

Prescribed anti-pollution device must be properly fitted

22

Use of motor vehicle requires anti-pollution device

39

Prescribed anti-pollution device must not be impaired

24

Removal or adjustment of anti-pollution device

40

Exemption – impairment of anti-pollution device for motor sport – Act, s 286

25

Exemption from offence against section 157

Moved to Part 8 (s 156 to 157)

26

Transfer of petrol into fuel tanks of motor vehicles

Moved to Part 8 (s 114 to 126)

Division 5

Petrol volatility (s 27 to 31)

Part 5 – Air impurities emitted from activities and plant – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6B

Division 1 – Group to which activity, plant or emission unit belongs
Subdivision 1 – Preliminary

41

Definitions

32

Definitions

42

Part does not apply to rolling stock operations

-

 

Subdivision 2 – Scheduled premises

43

Group to which activity or plant belongs

33

General grouping of activities and plant

44

Phasing out of Groups 1-4

35(1)-(2)

36(1)-(2)

Phasing out of Group 1

Phasing out of Group 2

45

Phasing out of Group 5 for transitioning Group 3 or 4 activities and plant

-

 

46

Exemption for premises that will close before 1 November 2030

-

 

47

Emission units

34

Emission units taken to be in Group 6

48

Application for variation to include legacy and other conditions

37

35(3)-(4)

36(3)-(4)

Alternative standards imposed by licence conditions

Phasing out of Group 1

Phasing out of Group 2

49

Determination of application

38

Determination of application for variation of licence

Subdivision 3 – Non-scheduled premises

50

Group to which activity or plant belongs

44

Grouping of activities and plant

51

Emissions units

-

 

Division 2 – Standards of concentration

52

Standards of concentration for air impurities – Act, s 128

39

 

45

Prescribed standards of concentration for air impurities

(scheduled premises)

Prescribed standards of concentration for air impurities

(non-scheduled premises)

53

Alternative standard for hydrogen sulfide emissions

43

Alternative standard for hydrogen sulfide emissions

54

Application of standards of concentration during start-up and shutdown periods

57

Exemptions relating to start-up and shutdown periods

55

Standards of concentration not to affect other controls

56

Standards of concentration not to affect other controls

Division 3 – Exceeding standard of concentration

56

Definitions

40(2)

 

46(2)

Determining whether standards have been exceeded

(scheduled premises)

Determining if standards have been exceeded

(non-scheduled premises)

57

Emission points – Act, s 128

54

Emission points

58

Procedures to determine whether standards have been exceeded

40

46

Determining whether standards have been exceeded

(scheduled premises)

Determining if standards have been exceeded

(non-scheduled premises)

59

Sampling or monitoring position

40(1)(a)

 

46(1)(a)

Determining whether standards have been exceeded

(scheduled premises)

Determining if standards have been exceeded

(non-scheduled premises)

60

Determining concentration of air impurity

40(1)(b)-(d)

 

46(1)(b)-(d)

Determining whether standards have been exceeded

(scheduled premises)

Determining if standards have been exceeded

(non-scheduled premises)

61

Dioxins and furans

41

Dioxins and furans

62

Combination of air impurities from 2 or more sources – Act, s 128

55

Combination of air impurities from 2 or more sources

Division 4 – Prescribed periods for emission of smoke

63

Prescribed period

42(1)(b)

42(2)(b)

42(3)(b)

47(1)(b)

47(2)(b)

Approved circumstances in relation to smoke emissions

(scheduled premises)

 

Approved circumstances in relation to smoke emissions

(non-scheduled premises)

64

Scheduled premises

42

Approved circumstances in relation to smoke emissions

65

Non-scheduled premises

47

Approved circumstances in relation to smoke emissions

Division 5 – Treatment plants in Group 6

66

Application of Division

48

49

Definition

Application of Division

67

Flares generally

50

Operation of Group 6 treatment plant

68

Flares for treating landfill gas

51(2)

52(2)

53(2)

Residence time

Combustion temperature

Destruction efficiency

69

Afterburners without catalytic control system

51(1)

52(1)

Residence time

Combustion temperature

70

Thermal treatment plants other than flares

53(1)

Destruction efficiency

71

Method of calculating time, temperature and destruction efficiency

51(3)

52(3)

53(3)

Residence time

Combustion temperature

Destruction efficiency

Division 6 – Exemptions

72

Exemption for emission of smoke by public authority

58

Exemption relating to smoke emission

73

Exemption for emergency electricity generation

59

Exemption relation to emergency electricity generation

74

Exemption when complying with directions under National Electricity Rules

-

 

Moved to Part 9 (s 158-162)

60

Limits on sulfur content of liquid fuel

Part 6 – Volatile organic liquids – tanks and loading plant – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6A

-

Division 1 – Preliminary

Moved to s 78, s 89, s 96, s 127, s 129, s 139 and Dictionary

61

Definitions

Division 1 – Control equipment – general requirements

75

Object of Part

-

 

76

Tanks, plant and control equipment to comply with Part

62

Equipment and plant to be fitted with control equipment

77

Tanks and plant to which Division does not apply

63

Exemptions from requirement for control equipment

Division 2 – Control equipment for large storage tanks

78

Definitions

-

 

79

Application

64

65(1)

Application

Control equipment for large storage tanks

80

Calculation of vapour pressure

65(7)

Control equipment for large storage tanks

81

Drainage system

65(2)(a), 65(3)

82

Vapour control

65(2)(b)(iii),

65(c)

83

Roof for tanks commissioned on or after 1 July 2024

-

84

Roof or cover for tanks commissioned before 1 July 2024

65(2)(b)(i)-(ii),

65(4)

85

Rim mounted secondary seal for tanks commissioned before 1 July 2024

-

 

86

Fill pipes for tanks commissioned on or after 1 July 2024

-

 

87

Vapour disposal systems

65(6)(a),

65(7)

Control equipment for large storage tanks

 

88

Vapour recovery systems

65(6)(b), 65(7)

Control equipment for large storage tanks

Division 3 – Control equipment for small storage tanks

89

Definitions

61

Definitions

90

Application

67(1)

Control equipment for small storage tanks

91

Vapour transfer system and lines

67(2)(a)-(b), 67(2)(d), 67(3)‑(4)

92

Overfill protection system for tank filled by operation of gravity

67(2)(c)

93

Pressure vacuum valves for tank above ground

67(2)(e), 67(5)

94

Fill pipes for tanks commissioned on or after 1 July 2024

-

95

Opening cover of tank

67(6)

Division 4 – Control equipment for large loading plant

96

Definitions

61

Definitions

97

Application

66(1)

Control equipment for large loading plant

 

98

Vapour collection systems

66(2)(a), 66(2)(c)

99

Interlock systems

66(2)(b)

100

Vapour disposal systems

66(2)(d)(i), 66(3)

101

Vapour recovery systems

66(2)(d)(ii), 66(3)

Part 7 – Volatile organic liquids – large tanker trucks – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6A

Division 1 – Preliminary

102

Object of Part

-

 

103

Application

68(1)

Control equipment for large tank vehicles

Division 2 – Control equipment for large tanker trucks

104

Use of large tanker truck

68(2), 69(1)

Control equipment for large tank vehicles

 

105

Exemption from requirement for control equipment

68(4)-(5)

106

Vapour handling system and lines

68(2)(a), 68(3)

107

Lines

68(2)(c)

108

Overfill protection device

68(2)(b)

109

Pressure vacuum valves

68(2)(e)

110

Fitting of hatch covers to tank openings

68(2)(d)

Division 3 – Loading and unloading large tanker trucks

111

Loading from large loading plant

69(2)

Loading and unloading large tank vehicles

 

112

Unloading into small storage tank

69(3)

113

Leaving open delivery tank cover

69(4)

Part 8 – Petrol – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6A

Division 1 – Petrol suppliers – vapour pressure
Subdivision 1 – Preliminary

114

Definitions

27

Definitions

115

Meaning of “vapour pressure”

 

Subdivision 2 – Offence of supplying petrol with high volatility

116

Vapour pressure of petrol – offence

29(1)-(2)

Vapour pressure of petrol

 

117

Defence – person provided with false or misleading documentation

29(3)

118

Defence – retail sale of petrol stored before summer

29(4), 29(8)

119

Defence – supply for motor sports

29(5)

120

Defence – requirement under Energy and Utilities Administration Act 1987

29(6)-(7)

Subdivision 3 – Record keeping and reporting

121

Monthly volumetric average vapour pressure

27

Definitions

28

Monthly volumetric average vapour pressure

122

Petrol supplier must keep records

30(1)

Record keeping

 

123

Records for prescribed blended petrol

30(2)

124

Records for blended petrol other than prescribed blended petrol

30(3)

125

Records for unblended petrol

30(4)-(5)

126

Reporting

31

Reporting

Division 2 – Petrol service stations

Note: sections in the 2022 regulation marked with an asterisk (*) incorporate requirements from the Standards and best practice guidelines for vapour recovery at petrol service stations.

Subdivision 1 – Preliminary

127

Definitions

61

Definitions

 

128

Meaning of “existing petrol service station”

 

Subdivision 2 – Petrol dispensers – stage 2 vapour recovery

129*

Definitions

61

Definitions

130

Application to petrol dispensers

61

70

Definitions

Definitions

131

Operation of petrol dispenser to which Subdivision applies

74

75

76

Control equipment for petrol dispensers

Specifications regarding testing

Specifications regarding monitoring

132*

Tests and certification

75

Specifications regarding testing

133*

Vapour recovery system

74

Control equipment for petrol dispensers

134*

Vapour recovery – testing

75

Specifications regarding testing

135*

Vapour recovery – monitoring

76(1)-(2),

76(5)

Specifications regarding monitoring

136*

Petrol dispenser not to be operated until fault rectified

76(3)-(4)

Specifications regarding monitoring

137

Compliance notification

78

Compliance notification

138

Reporting to council

77

Reporting to EPA

Subdivision 3 – Petrol storage tanks – stage 1 vapour recovery

139*

Definitions

61

Definitions

140

Application to petrol storage tanks

61

Definitions

70

Definitions

141

Operation of petrol storage tank to which Subdivision applies

71

72

73

Control equipment for storage tanks on petrol service stations

Specifications regarding covers

Specifications regarding periodic testing

142

Vapour transfer system and lines

71(1)(a)-(b), 71(1)(j)

Control equipment for storage tanks on petrol service stations

 

143

Fill pipes

71(1)(c)

144*

Overfill prevention

71(1)(d)-(e)

145

Petrol spill containment

71(1)(f)-(g)

146

Seals

71(1)(h)-(i)

147*

Vent pipe

71(1)(k)

148*

Vapour processing unit

71(1)(l)

149*

Testing petrol storage tank

71(2)-(3)

150

Opening cover of tank

72

Specifications regarding covers

151*

Periodic testing

73

Specifications regarding testing

152

Reporting to council

77

Reporting to EPA

Subdivision 4 – Log books

 

153

Requirement for log books

79(1), 79(6)

Log books

 

154

Matters to be included in log book

79(2)-(3)

155

Keeping of records

79(4)-(5),

79(7)

-

 

80

Exemptions

Division 3 – Transfer into fuel tank of vehicle

156

Flow restriction device required

26(2), 26(4)

Transfer of petrol into fuel tanks of motor vehicles

 

157

Petrol delivery hose must be fully inserted in fill pipe

26(3)

Part 9 – Sulfur in liquid fuel – the Act, Sch 2, cl 6A

158

Definition

-

 

159

Limits on sulfur content of liquid fuel

60(1)-(2), 60(4)

Limits on sulfur content of liquid fuel

 

160

Defence – control equipment reduces emissions

60(3)(a) 60(3)(d)

161

Defence – liquid fuel used to light or stabilise solid fuel

60(3)(b)

162

Exception – burning approved by EPA

60(3)(c)

Part 10 – Miscellaneous

163

Repeal and savings

81

82

Savings

Repeal

164

Transitional provision – meaning of “summer” for Part 8 until 2023

-

 

Schedule 1 Local government areas in which burning is prohibited

Schedule 1

Local government areas in which burning is prohibited

Schedule 2 Standards of concentration

(Combines former Schedules 2-4 and 6)

Schedule 2

Standards of concentration for scheduled premises – activities and plant used for specific purposes

Schedule 3 Standards of concentration for scheduled premises – activities and plant used for specific purposes
Schedule 4 Standards of concentration for scheduled premises – general activities and plant
Schedule 6 Standards of concentration for non-scheduled premises

Schedule 3 Test methods, averaging periods and reference conditions

(Combines former Schedules 5 and 7)


 

Schedule 5

Test methods, averaging periods and reference conditions for scheduled premises

Schedule 7

Test methods, averaging periods and reference conditions for non-scheduled premises

Schedule 4 Amendment of Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2022

-

Dictionary

 

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