Tough measures slug polluters' profits

Polluters' profits are being targeted by a new framework that will force environmental offenders to hand over any illegal gains from environmental crime.

NSW is the first state in Australia to implement a robust and transparent calculation method to recover the proceeds of environmental crime from offenders, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

"Polluters should not be allowed to profit from their environmental offences," Ms Upton said.

"In addition to any fines, the framework will help determine monetary benefits obtained through illegal profits and the avoidance of operating and capital expenditure, including license and waste disposal fees.

"This will be a deterrent to offenders and an incentive for operators to take proper precautions.  We want would-be offenders to be aware that there are now major and wider penalties for environmental crime."

"We expect other environmental regulators across Australia to follow our lead and implement similar approaches to recovering monetary benefits through the courts," Ms Upton said.

Under the changes, the NSW Environment Protection Authority can apply to the Court for a monetary benefits order as part of the sentencing package. These orders strip offenders of illegal profits made by committing an offence.

"There is now a clear and transparent method for calculating the amount of the illegal profit that offenders should pay back. It is a fundamental principle that offenders should not profit from crime," Ms Upton said.

Background

Monetary benefits are the financial advantage that an offender gains from avoiding or delaying spending money on complying with environmental legislation.

The EPA has now developed an approach for calculating and recovering monetary benefits for appropriate cases, which can be used under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Examples of Monetary Benefits that can be gained by breaching EPA requirements

A quarry exceeds its annual extraction limit. From the additional sales, it makes $650,000 in illegal profits and avoid $20,000 in extra licensing fees.

A waste contractor illegally dumps asbestos waste, avoiding $10,000 in disposal costs.

A chemical manufacturing company fails to install a bund (barrier) around a faulty storage tank and other storage tanks on site. By not installing the bunds, the company avoids $220,000 in capital costs. The company also does not have a Pollution Incident Response Management Plan nor does it train staff in responding to pollution incidents, avoiding $15,000 in operational costs.

A landowner operates an illegal waste facility for two years and makes $500,000 in illegal profits by charging for the waste. The landowner also avoids $150,000 in operational costs by not paying for the development consent process, consultancy fees and annual licensing fees. It also failed to install appropriate pollution control measures, avoiding $300,000 in capital costs.

A cement manufacturer avoided $60,000 in operational costs by not maintaining an air filtration unit. The unit failed and caused air pollution.

 

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                                                      Alan Gale 0418 892 778