26 September 2023

Chance to have a say on environment rules

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The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is calling for feedback on the biggest revamp of the State’s environment protection regulations since 2009.

Releasing its draft Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) General Regulation 2022 and Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), EPA said last year’s POEO Regulation was made as an interim regulation, adopting the provisions of the 2009 Regulation (with minor changes) to allow the Authority time to propose more complex amendments.

“The proposed changes will improve the operation of the regulation and will clarify and simplify it,” EPA said.

“Changes to some scheduled activity definitions will level the playing field for those EPA licensees,” it said.

“The regulation will also improve the EPA’s cost recovery.”

EPA said three of the proposed amendments were considered significant, the introduction of a new licence application fee; amending the definition of ‘extractive activities’; and adding a new upper licence fee threshold for bird accommodation.

It said the proposed amendments sought to ensure the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) could be implemented in an effective manner; that EPA recovers costs by applying “the user pays and polluter pays principles”; that the operability of the POEO General Regulation 2021 is improved; that the 2021 Regulation is clarified and simplified; and that definitions are refined and Schedule 1 of the Act improved.

“Many proposed amendments to the POEO General Regulation 2021 and Schedule 1 of the POEO Act are considered non-significant and are necessary to improve the functionality of the Regulation,” it said.

EPA said these included increases to some fees, including indexing fee units to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Wage Price Index (WPI), testing of pollution incident response management plans and changes to penalty notice provisions for two offences.

“The proposed POEO General Regulation 2022 also includes minor amendments to ensure it is a contemporary regulation reflecting current technology, operations and processes.”

It said the draft regulation was open for comment until 14 April.

The EPA’s 136-page draft POEO General Regulation 2022 can be accessed at this PS News link and its 87-page RIS at this link.

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