Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Industry legislation

Clean air legislation

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) is the key piece of environment protection legislation administered by the EPA.

The POEO Act establishes a system of environment protection licensing for 'scheduled' activities with the potential to have a significant impact on the environment. Schedule 1 of the Act lists these scheduled activities, which are licensed by the EPA. Most 'non-scheduled' activities are regulated by local councils and other local authorities.

Part 5.4 (sections 124-135) of the POEO Act deals specifically with air pollution. This includes the general obligation that the occupiers of non-residential premises do not cause air pollution by failing to operate or maintain plant, carry out work or deal with materials in a proper and efficient manner (sections 124-126).

Emission standards

Section 128 of the POEO Act requires occupiers of non-residential premises to comply with any air emission standards prescribed by regulations. These standards are contained in Part 5 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010. The standards are in-stack emission limits and are the maximum emissions permissible for an industrial source anywhere in NSW. Even where the Regulation does not prescribe standards for a particular air impurity, occupiers must still take all practicable means to prevent or minimise air pollution.

The emission limits in Part 5 do not take into account site-specific features such as meteorology and background air quality, and therefore do not necessarily protect against adverse air quality impacts in the areas surrounding the premises. These site-specific features are accounted for in an air quality impact assessment.

For a detailed guide on Part 5, see Frequently asked questions: Part 5 - Air impurities from emitted activities and plant.

Determining compliance with emission standards

The methods required by statute to be used to measure emissions of air pollutants from stationary sources in NSW are specified in Approved methods for the sampling and analysis of air pollutants in NSW.

Air quality impact assessment

The purpose of an air quality impact assessment is to demonstrate acceptable impacts at the sensitive receptors surrounding the premises. Approved methods for the modelling and assessment of air pollutants in NSW specifies the methods required by statute to be used to model and assess emissions of air pollutants from stationary sources in NSW.

Page last updated: 24 June 2013