Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

One year on as NSW's lead gas regulator

Media release: 3 November 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) recently passed one year as NSW’s lead gas regulator.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said the EPA is building on its strong enforcement history and community links in the new role.

“NSW has one of the strongest regulatory regimes for gas in the world. We’re committed to ensuring the regulations are applied consistently, transparently and efficiently and, in the past 12 months, we have conducted close to 200 inspections of gas projects” he said.

“During inspections the EPA reviews activities for air and noise impacts, waste management, use of chemicals, infrastructure such as produced water ponds and wells, rehabilitation and decommissioning,” Mr Gifford continued.

The EPA regulates gas conditions including those issued by other NSW Government agencies, conducts inspections and investigates complaints, with new staff now based close to gas operations.

Since being appointed on 1 July 2015, key EPA actions in the 12 months to July 2016 include:

  • 197 inspections conducted:
    • 107 inspections checked compliance with environmental and operational conditions issued by the EPA, the Division of Resources and Energy, Department of Planning and Environment and Department of Primary Industries – Water.
    • 90 inspections focussed on compliance with rehabilitation standards before the return of security bonds
  • 16 reports from individuals and communities about potential pollution incidents from gas operations were investigated
  • EPA is now the first port of call for information about gas regulation in NSW
  • recruitment of specialist skills including  hydro-geologists, petroleum engineers and a  geologist 
  • dedicated gas regulation staff now based in a new Narrabri office
  • community liaison officers now based in Dubbo, Narrabri and the Illawarra
  • new technology means gas inspectors can access all NSW Government conditions that apply to a gas operator from their tablet or smartphone
  • commissioned new 3D immersion training theatre for regulation staff

Looking ahead, EPA Director of the Gas Regulation Branch Carmen Dwyer said that 100% of gas titles bought back by the Government under the NSW Gas Plan would be rehabilitated by 2019.

“The EPA has already confirmed five petroleum titles are compliant with rehabilitation conditions,” she said. 

Additionally, the EPA is working closely with other NSW Government agencies to ensure the regulatory framework provides clear and consistent guidance for communities and industry.

“We want people to have all the information they need to be assured that gas regulation is being undertaken to the highest standards. Our new community engagement staff in Dubbo, Illawarra and Narrabri will make it easier for anyone interested to find out about the work of the EPA and other agencies,” she said.

Anyone with questions about gas regulation or information about potential pollution incidents from gas operations should call the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For gas activities the:

  • EPA issues and regulates environment protection licences and checks compliance and enforcement of conditions of planning consents, petroleum titles and water access licences
  • NSW Department of Planning and Environment undertakes environmental assessment of developments and makes recommendations to the Minister for Planning in regards to planning consent decisions
  • NSW Department of Industry- Resources and Energy approves and issues petroleum titles
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries-Water issues water access licences and other approvals for water supply/use.

A Memorandum of Understanding outlines the roles and responsibilities of NSW Government agencies in regulating the gas industry.

The EPA’s new lead compliance and enforcement role is a key deliverable of the NSW Gas Plan which builds on the findings of the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW by NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane.

Information about gas regulation can be found at the EPA website 

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 03 November 2016