The measures provide the State’s environmental watchdog, Environment Protection Authority (EPA), with the toughest regulatory powers in Australia, and shift the balance of power back to the regulator instead of the polluter.
Environment Minister Rob Stokes said that for too long the EPA had been operating under conditions that made it difficult to effectively regulate operators who continually did the wrong thing.
The new measures include:
- Increasing fines for the 10 most serious environmental offences from $1500 to $15,000 for corporations and from $750 up to $7,500 for individuals.
- Introducing risk-based licencing from 1 July 2015.
- Giving the Land and Environment Court alternative approaches to sentences, including the ability to set restorative justice actions that benefit the environment and victims of environmental incidents.
- Closing liability loopholes for operators looking to avoid penalties.
- Proposing changes to NSW’s waste regulations to reduce licensing thresholds for waste recycling and storage activities (currently 2,500 tonnes at any one time proposed down to 1,000 tonnes) to stop stockpiling.