What's new in law

Recent significant changes to legislation administered by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and related topics are listed below. Links to the text of the new Act, Regulation or Bill are provided where available (obtained from the NSW legislation or NSW Parliament websites).

  • For a list of legislation administered by EPA, see legislation.
  • See the Glossary for explanations of these terms: assent, Bill, gazette.

November 2018

Asbestos waste reforms 

The Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Asbestos Waste) Bill 2018 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 21 November 2018. It amends the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (the POEO Act) to better manage and control asbestos waste in New South Wales, with changes that

  • elevate certain asbestos waste offences from the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (POEO Waste Regulation) to the POEO Act. These amendments will make it an offence under the POEO Act to dispose of asbestos waste unlawfully, as well as prohibiting the re-use or recycling of asbestos waste
  • increase the penalties for those offences, as well as increasing penalties for land pollution involving asbestos waste
  • introduce the presence of asbestos as a sentencing consideration under the POEO Act
  • make related and consequential amendments to the POEO Act and
  • make consequential amendments to other legislative instruments including the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 and the POEO Waste Regulation. 

The amendments will commence on a day (or days) appointed by proclamation. In the case of introducing the presence of asbestos as a sentencing consideration, the provision will not commence on a date earlier than 12 months from the date of assent.

Waste Management reforms

Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2018

The Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2018 (PDF 230KB) commenced on 16 November 2018 (noting that some amendments commence 6 months after this date) and amends the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009. The Amendment Regulation introduces a variety of amendments to better manage construction and demolition waste, landfills, and asbestos waste, with changes to introduce

  • new standards that must be met for managing construction waste at construction and demolition waste facilities
  • new concessional levy rate for ‘recovered fines’ applied as daily cover at landfills
  • new prohibitions on exhuming waste at current or former landfills
  • increased penalty notice amounts for asbestos waste offences
  • requirements relating to the transportation or disposal of asbestos waste, the use of waste as biofilters or bedding layers in a landfill, and installing video monitoring systems at scheduled waste facilities and 
  • exemptions from provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014.

For more information regarding the Amendment Regulation and the new standards, please visit Construction and demolition waste on the EPA’s website.

New forestry legislation

The EPA has been responsible for overseeing the introduction of a raft of legislative instruments that make up the new forestry legislation for the state of NSW. These legislative instruments include the

  • Forestry Legislation Amendment Act 2018 (FLA Act)
  • Local Land Services Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Regulation 2018
  • Forestry Amendment Regulation 2018 (FA Regulation) and
  • Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (the Coastal IFOA)

 

Forestry Legislation Amendment Act 2018

The Forestry Legislation Amendment Act 2018 commenced on 9 November 2018 and amends the regulatory framework for both public and private native forestry, and enhances the EPA’s compliance and enforcement powers. The FLA Act amends the Forestry Act 2012 with respect to Crown (public) forestry and amends the Local Land Services Act 2013 with respect to private native forestry. 

More information regarding the forestry reforms can be accessed at the native forestry sections of the EPA website.

Local Land Services Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Regulation 2018

The Local Land Services Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Regulation 2018 (PDF 163KB) is made under the Local Land Services Act 2013 and updates that legislation with respect to private native forestry plans and land subject to those plans following on from the enactment of the FLA Act. 

Forestry Amendment Regulation 2018

The FA Regulation (PDF 147KB) amends the Forestry Regulation 2012 to make provisions for the continued operation of existing integrated forestry operations approvals that relate to bee-keeping and grazing activities which would otherwise be affected by the new FLA Act.

The FA Regulation also requires the payment of periodic fees relating to forest permits issued by the Forestry Corporation.

Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval

As part of the recent Forestry reforms, four existing Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) (for Eden, Southern, Upper and Lower North East coastal regions of NSW) have been consolidated into a single, modern Coastal IFOA (comprising Coastal IFOA conditions (PDF 10MB) and Coastal IFOA protocols (PDF 19MB).

The Coastal IFOA conditions set mandatory actions and controls for protecting threatened plants, animals, habitats, soils and water. Each Coastal IFOA condition is accompanied by (non-enforceable) outcome statements that help to outline and explain the intent of what the conditions are aiming to achieve.

The Coastal IFOA protocols set out additional enforceable actions and controls to support the effective implementation of the Coastal IFOA conditions.

More information on the IFOA can be found on the Coastal IFOA  page and the Forestry reforms can be found on the Forestry regulatory reforms page.

Mixed waste organic material 

Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Amendment (Waste Contributions Exemption) Regulation 2018

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Amendment (Waste Contributions Exemption) Regulation 2018 (PDF 159KB) amends the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 to exempt, for a one-year period, mixed waste organic outputs from the calculation of waste contributions payable by landfills under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The exemption is limited to waste processed at facilities approved by the Environment Protection Authority, and up to a specified amount, by notice published in the NSW Government Gazette. 

The Gazette notice (PDF 2.5MB) is available.

For more information regarding the changes to the use and application of mixed waste organic material, please visit the Mixed Waste Organic Material section of the EPA website.

July 2018

Radiation Control Act 1990 – fees amendment

The Radiation Control Amendment (Fees) Regulation 2018 (PDF 179KB) amends the Radiation Control Regulation 2013 to increase the fees payable in connection with the administration of the Radiation Control Act 1990 and to introduce a mechanism for the Regulation to allow for fees to be automatically adjusted for inflation going forward. The increases in fees are generally in line with movements in the Public Sector Wage Price Index.

December 2017

Return and Earn – NSW container deposit scheme

The NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, began rolling out across NSW on 1 December 2017. A variety of legislative changes were made over the course of 2017 (primarily under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001) to assist with the establishment and ongoing management of the Return and Earn program. These legislative instruments are outlined below.

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment (Supply and Collection) Regulation 2017

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment (Supply and Collection) Regulation 2017 (PDF 197KB) deals with a variety of further matters in connection with the container deposit scheme established under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001. These matters include, but are not limited to, the following

  • requirements for the marking and labelling of containers that are subject to the scheme
  • container approvals (including conditions of approvals and further grounds for refusal of approvals)
  • the circumstances in which refund amounts must not, or are not required to be, paid under the scheme
  • the manner in which refund amounts are to be paid under the scheme
  • the time within which refund amounts are to be paid under the scheme
  • the information required to be contained in refund declarations provided in connection with a claim for a refund amount under the scheme
  • the records required to be kept by collection point operators
  • prescribing a further class of persons as material recovery facility operators
  • requiring reports by the Scheme Coordinator to specify the number of containers supplied (rather than sold) by suppliers who are subject to a supply arrangement, and
  • other matters of a minor or consequential nature.

 

Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Penalty Notices) Regulation 2017

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Penalty Notices) Regulation 2017 (PDF 140KB) amends the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 in connection with container deposit scheme legislation to prescribe offences against the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017 for which penalty notices may be issued by enforcement officers and the amounts payable under those penalty notices.

September 2017

Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2017

The Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Regulation 2008 with updates to fees for environmentally hazardous licences and technology assessments.

Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 with changes to:

  • update provisions relating to heavy vehicles that are now regulated under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW)
  • improve flexibility for compliance with the labelling and limit provisions for noisy equipment by allowing European Union labelled outdoor power equipment to be sold in NSW without additional labelling and adopting an international noise metric
  • move the technical procedures for testing noise from motor vehicles and outdoor power equipment to the Approved Methods for Testing Noise Emissions
  • formalise existing testing procedures for determining noise levels from shooting ranges
  • make minor changes to definitions and remove obsolete provisions.

Pesticides Regulation 2017

The Pesticides Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017 and remakes the provisions of the Pesticides Regulation 2009 with changes to:

  • introduce licensing requirements for individuals carrying out ground applicator work and requires pest management technician trainees and fumigator trainees to obtain a trainee permit from the EPA. These changes start on 1 July 2018
  • update fees for licence applications and renewals
  • provide non-licenced pesticides users with alternative training options to maintain pesticide user competency
  • simplify and streamline record keeping requirements for non-licenced pesticides users
  • require universities, from 1 July 2018, to prepare pesticides notification plans for pesticide use in public places and use pesticides in accordance with those plans
  • update the penalty amounts for penalty notice offences.

August 2017

Return and Earn – NSW container deposit scheme (cont.)

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment Regulation 2017

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment Regulation 2017 (PDF 168KB) deals with a variety of consequential matters in connection with the container deposit scheme established under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001. These matters include, but are not limited to, the following

  • the performance targets to be included in a network operator agreement
  • container approvals and associated matters (such as application fees, grounds for refusal, suspensions, revocations etc.)
  • the manner in which container approvals and other documents may be served and
  • transitional arrangements relating to claims made by material recovery facility operators for the payment of processing refunds.

June 2017

The Protection of the Environment Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2017 makes a series of amendments to the

Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 to update investigation powers by adopting powers under Chapter 7 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (POEO Act) and the methods for the service of documents.

Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 to remove the Hunter and Illawarra Regional Environment Protection Community Consultation Forums and the NSW Council on Environmental Education.

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to

  • Replace the requirement for newspaper advertising with a requirement to publish details of licence reviews on the Environment Protection Authority’s website and on the Public Register
  • Extend the limitation period for groundwater offences and repeat waste offences from one year to three years
  • Explicitly provide for the use of remotely piloted aircraft for the purposes of investigating activities regulated by the EPA, to ensure evidence collected can be used to support prosecutions and other regulatory actions but only if operated or accompanied by an authorised officer
  • Remove the class of ‘supervisory licences’, which are held by local councils for privately owned and operated putrescible waste facilities
  • Change licences for transporting trackable waste from being issued on a perpetual basis to fixed terms of not more than five years to align these licences with Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008 licences
  • Ensure that Global Positioning System devices can be installed on trailers attached to trucks, as well as to trucks, for waste transporters

Radiation Control Act 1990 as follows

  • Allow prosecutions to be heard in the Land and Environment Court (rather than the Supreme Court) consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Allow the Land and Environment court to hear appeals against EPA decisions under the Radiation Control Act and the associated regulation consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Remove the requirement for the Minister’s approval to commence prosecutions consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed by Local Courts for offences under the Act and the Regulation from 100 penalty units ($11,000) to 200 penalty units ($22,000)
  • Remove the statutory cap on penalty notice amounts, consistent with other environment protection legislation
  • Extend the limitation period for offences under the Act from one year to two years

Most of the provisions of the Act commenced on assent, however, those provisions relating to trackable waste licences and use of remotely piloted aircraft will commence on proclamation at a later date. 

March 2017

Return and Earn – NSW container deposit scheme (cont.)

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2017 establishes the Return and Earn scheme under the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001. The Regulation prescribes the

  • beverages and containers that are excluded from the scheme
  • refund amount payable for containers
  • classes of persons prescribed as material recovery facility operators
  • fees for applications and approvals under the Act
  • matters that the Minister may consider in determining whether an applicant for a Scheme administration agreement is a fit and proper person
  • approval of collection point arrangements (including mechanisms established for the administrative review of decisions relating to applications and approvals)
  • claims for refund amounts for containers processed by material recovery facility operators, and
  • matters required to be included in reports prepared by the Scheme Coordinator.

February 2015

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Newcastle Air Monitoring) Regulation 2015 (PDF 197KB) makes provision for the establishment of the Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network. The Regulation includes provisions to

  • Require holders of environment protection licences in the Newcastle local government area to pay a levy towards the cost of the monitoring program
  • Calculate the amount of the levy payable by those licence holders
  • Require licence holders to provide the EPA with information about emissions
  • Allow persons authorised by the EPA to enter land owned or occupied by licence holders for the purposes of the operation of the monitoring program
  • Require the EPA to make air quality data available on its website and to publicly report on the monitoring program

Find out more about the Newcastle Air Monitoring Regulation at the Commencement of Newcastle Local Air Quality Network Regulation webpage.

December 2014

  • The Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Regulation 2014 came into effect on 19 December 2014.
    This Regulation amends the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to ensure that all petroleum activities are regulated consistently. It requires all petroleum exploration, assessment and production activities to hold an Environment Protection Licence issued by the EPA, provides a new administrative fee scale for this activity, and requires operators licenced for this activity to pay load-based fees on specific assessable pollutants when the annual production capacity exceeds 0.5 petajoules. Find out more about the Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Regulation 2014.
  • The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2014 makes a series of amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (the POEO Act), the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) and the Radiation Control Act 1990 to strengthen and align environmental penalties and alternative sentencing options. The Act also makes miscellaneous amendments to the POEO Act and the CLM Act to support timely and cost-effective enforcement by the EPA, and to the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. Find out more about the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2014.

October 2014

August 2014

  • The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Fees and Penalty Notices) Regulation 2014 increases penalty notice amounts for some offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 by amending the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009. The Fees and Penalty Notices Regulation will increase penalty notice amounts to be proportionate to the seriousness, harm and nature of an offence. This Regulation will also prescribe additional staff as enforcement officers, include two-fee-based waste processing activities on Schedule 1 of the General Regulation that are currently listed in Schedule 1 of the POEO Act, and make other changes of a machinery nature to the General Regulation. Find out more about the Fees and Penalty Notices Regulation.

July 2014

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

September 2013

September 2012

  • The Protection of the Environment Administration Regulation 2012 remakes the Protection of the Environment Administration Regulation 2005 with no amendments. The Regulation makes provision for members of the Board of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to make disclosures of interests as required by clause 7(3) of Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991. In particular, the Regulation sets out requirements relating to the time that disclosures should be made and the form of such disclosures; prescribes the types of interests to be disclosed, including interests in real property, sources of outside income, gifts, contributions to travel, interests and positions in corporations, positions in associations, debts and dispositions of property; and includes requirements for keeping a Register of Disclosures by members of the Board and for inspecting the register. This Regulation is administered by the EPA.

February and March 2012

The NSW Government introduced the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). The new provisions came into force in February and March 2012.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Pollution Incident Response Management Plans) Regulation 2012 amends the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to prescribe certain matters relating to the form, content, testing and availability of pollution incident response management plans. The Amendment Regulation commenced on 29 February 2012. You can find further information about pollution incident response management plans here.

The changes to the POEO Act include

  • if there is a pollution incident, all relevant authorities have to be notified immediately
  • the maximum penalty for failing to notify a pollution incident (in accordance with the POEO Act) has been doubled to $2 million
  • licensees have to prepare and implement pollution incident response management plans
  • licensees have to publish monitoring results or otherwise make them available to the public
  • in certain instances, the EPA and Ministry of Health can require payment for analysing the human health and environmental risks arising from an incident
  • the EPA has greater powers to require a mandatory environmental audit
  • industry has to provide more information to the public, and make this available online

The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 page provides further details on these new requirements.

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