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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

NSW clean air legislation

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) provides the statutory framework for managing air emissions in NSW. 

Reducing risks to harmless levels through pollution prevention, cleaner production, application of the waste management hierarchy (i.e. reduction, re-use, recovery and recycling), continual environmental improvement and environmental monitoring are the broad objectives of the POEO Act (Chapter 1, Section 3).

Air pollution-related sections 124 to 126 (Chapter 5, Part 5.4., Division 1) of the POEO Act require activities to be conducted in a proper and efficient manner, while section 128 (Chapter 5, Part 5.4., Division 1) of the POEO Act requires that all necessary practicable means are used to prevent or minimise air pollution.

Best management practice is the POEO Act guiding principle for regulating sources of air pollution.

Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 (Clean Air Regulation) provides regulatory measures to control emissions from wood heaters, open burning, motor vehicles and fuels and industry. The Clean Air Regulation was last remade in 2010 and the Regulatory Impact Statement was prepared as required by the Subordinate Legislation Act 1989.

Domestic solid fuel heaters

Part 2 of the Clean Air Regulation deals with the sale of domestic solid fuel heaters and requires the appliances to be certified as complying with emission limits in the relevant Australian Standard. It also prohibits tampering with these types of heaters.

Control of burning

Part 3 of the Clean Air Regulation controls burning in the open, including burning in incinerators. Councils may choose to be listed in Schedule 8 of the Clean Air Regulation which allows them to apply a level of control that is appropriate to local circumstances. Exemptions are provided for emergency bushfire hazard reduction work and burning that is authorised by a bushfire hazard reduction certificate. The Clean Air Regulation also:

  • allows the EPA and local councils to grant approvals for burning in the open in certain circumstances
  • prohibits the burning of specified articles, including tyres, coated wire, paint and solvent containers and certain treated timbers
  • imposes a general duty to prevent or minimise air pollution when burning in the open oran incinerator.

Motor vehicles and motor vehicle fuels

Part 4 of the Clean Air Regulation covers motor vehicles and motor vehicle fuels. In particular, the Clean Air Regulation deals with the following matters:

  • the emission of air impurities, including excessive smoke from motor vehicles
  • the compulsory fitting and maintenance of anti-pollution devices and exemptions from these requirements
  • the method of transfer of petrol into a vehicle's fuel tank
  • the storage of petrol at service stations
  • the volatility of petrol.

Air impurities emitted from activities and plant

Part 5 of the Clean Air Regulation deals with the emission of air impurities from activities and plant. In particular, the Clean Air Regulation:

  • sets maximum limits on emissions from activities and plant for a number of substances, including oxides of nitrogen, smoke, solid particles, chlorine, dioxins, furans and heavy metals
  • imposes operational requirements for certain afterburners, flares, vapour recovery units and other treatment plant
  • restricts the use of high sulfur liquid fuel.

Control of volatile organic liquids

Part 6 of the Clean Air Regulation deals with emissions from storage, transfer and distribution of volatile organic liquids (VOLs). Volatile organic liquids are managed through Stage 1 vapour recovery (VR1) controls, which cover storage and distribution in underground storage tanks and road tankers, and Stage 2 vapour recovery (VR2) controls, which apply to the refuelling of vehicles at service stations.

Page last updated: 25 June 2014