Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

UPSS environmentally sensitive zones

To obtain a Class 2 exemption under the UPSS Regulation, the physical location of a UPSS site must be outside the areas in New South Wales that the EPA has determined to be 'environmentally sensitive zones'.

Maps showing the environmentally sensitive zones in each local council area are available for download as PDF files:

UPSS environmentally sensitive zone maps

More information and help

What is a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone?

How has the EPA defined UPSS environmentally sensitive zones?

How to determine if a site is outside a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone

What is a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone?

UPSS environmentally sensitive zones have been identified through a risk-based approach to protecting sensitive environmental receptors. They represent a conservative assessment of areas that are likely to be vulnerable to contamination from leaking UPSS (due to geology or groundwater properties), or in close proximity to vulnerable environmental receptors (such as national parks and anything that is likely to be adversely affected by contaminated groundwater, e.g. groundwater bores, rivers, lakes, etc.).

The guiding principles were:

  • Use the best available data to determine regions highly sensitive to contamination from leaking UPSS.
  • Focus on sensitive environmental receptors.
  • Apply the precautionary principle.
  • Use simple and clear presentation.
  • Be consistent across NSW.

UPSS environmentally sensitive zone maps have been designed to enable a quick and simple way to assess the risk a UPSS site poses to a recognised environmentally sensitive receptor in any part of the state.

The UPSS environmentally sensitive zones have been developed in consultation with relevant State government departments and industry stakeholders to ensure a consistent approach and an appropriate level of protection for sensitive environmental receptors.

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How has the EPA defined UPSS environmentally sensitive zones?

UPSS environmentally sensitive zones were defined as:

  • the regions immediately surrounding sensitive receptors (e.g. rivers, drinking water bores)
  • regions on or near vulnerable groundwater (e.g. due to geology, links to catchment areas)
  • regions of recognised environmental significance (e.g. national parks).

Example: Defining environmentally sensitive zones

Diagram of a river - a common sensitive receptor which needs to be protected

Diagram of a river with 500 meter buffer zone for protection

Diagram of a river with the buffer zone becoming part of the UPSS environmentally sensitive zone

1. River (a common sensitive receptor which needs to be protected).

2. Create a 500m buffer around the river.

3. The buffer becomes part of the UPSS environmentally sensitive zone.


GIS

To accurately identify these regions a Geographical Information System (GIS) was created to aggregate and analyse a broad set of geospatial information. This data includes:

  • groundwater bores (location data from Department of Primary Industries Office of Water (NOW).
  • surface water features, such as rivers, coastline (location data from Geoscience Australia and Department of Lands)
  • protected areas, such as national parks
  • groundwater vulnerability maps (prepared by NOW).

Delineating environmentally sensitive zones

Conservative buffers were defined around bores and surface water features, including:

  • a 500 metre buffer around all lakes and reservoirs
  • a 500 metre buffer along the coastline
  • a 500 metre buffer around all named and major drainage areas
  • a 5000 metre buffer around licensed bores used for public drinking water
  • a 1000 metre buffer around licensed domestic bores
  • a 500 metre buffer around licensed agricultural bores.

Protected areas, including all parks, reserves, estate and other lands that are administered for conservation purposes by the EPA, were considered to be sensitive zones.

NSW groundwater vulnerability maps from NOW use hydrogeology data to determine zones of potential groundwater vulnerability. Where available, UPSS environmentally sensitive zones incorporate regions which are classified as highly vulnerable or moderately highly vulnerable.

This data was integrated to create a set of high-risk areas which are considered to be environmentally sensitive zones for the purposes of the UPSS Regulation.

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How to determine if a site is outside a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone

To check if a UPSS site is located outside a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone, use OEH's environmentally sensitive zone maps. To do this you will need:

  1. the local government area in which the UPSS site is located
  2. the street address of the UPSS site.


To check if the site is located outside a UPSS sensitive zone:

  1. Download the relevant local council map from the UPSS environmentally sensitive zone map page.
  2. Locate the position of the UPSS site on the map. Remember these maps are a guide only and the final determination of whether a site lies outside a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone will be made by the EPA.
  3. Where the resolution of the PDF map does not enable you to precisely locate the UPSS site, contact the EPA via email on upssreg@environment.nsw.gov.au. You will need to include the business name and the exact street address of the site. OEHwill endeavour to respond to your inquiry within three working days.
  4. If the site is not within a green area which marks a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone, the person responsible for the UPSS can apply for a Class 2 Exemption. If the site is inside a UPSS environmentally sensitive zone it will not be eligible for the Class 2 Exemption.
  5. Download and complete a UPSS Regulation exemption application form (PDF 109KB) and send it to the EPA, who will confirm the site is outside the UPSS environmentally sensitive zone and the person responsible for the UPSS is eligible for a Class 2 Exemption.

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Page last updated: 01 September 2016