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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Environment protection licences

Review of the load-based licensing scheme

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is currently reviewing the load-based licensing (LBL) scheme. The scheme has been in operation since 1999 and this review of its effectiveness and efficiency aims to ensure it is fulfilling its potential.

Load-based licensing issues paper: submission period closed

The EPA sought public feedback on an issues paper (PDF 2.2MB) for the LBL review between 31 October and 23 December 2016. The submission period for the issues paper has now closed. To contact the LBL review team, please email

The purpose of the issues paper is to provide information about the performance of the LBL scheme and to seek stakeholders’ feedback to inform a comprehensive review of the scheme’s efficiency and effectiveness to date. The paper looks at the LBL scheme in detail, identifies a range of issues and various options for its improvement, and also considers feedback already received, including via a preliminary survey of LBL licensees.

The issues paper snapshot (PDF 867KB) provides an overview of the issues paper, including the key issues covered and the options for change put forward for consideration. 

The document NSW EPA’s Load-based Licensing Scheme: Overview and facts about load-based licensing (PDF 1MB) gives an overview of how the LBL scheme works.

The EPA commissioned two consultancies to inform the development of the issues paper. The first was a comparative review of load-based licensing systems (PDF 2.1MB) by BDA Group. The second was a load-based licence fee comparison (PDF 1.4MB) by ACIL Allen. The issues paper describes the purpose and outcomes of these two consultancies in detail.

Stakeholder submissions

Fifty two submissions on the LBL Issues Paper (PDF 2.2MB) were received

Next steps

The EPA will prepare a proposal paper for further public consultation that takes into account the comments and views received on the issues paper. This proposal paper would set out any recommended changes to improve the LBL scheme and would also include a cost–benefit analysis and an assessment of the likely financial impacts on licensees.

We expect to release the proposal paper for consultation in early-2018.

Objectives of the review

The objectives of the LBL review are:

  • to assess whether changes are needed to ensure the scheme achieves its objectives as per clause 13 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 which states:
    'The objects of the load-based licensing scheme are as follows:
    (a) to provide incentives to reduce the load of pollutants emitted based on the polluter pays principle and to do so within an equitable framework,
    (b) to reduce pollution (in particular, assessable pollutants) in a cost effective and timely manner,
    (c) to give industry incentives for ongoing improvements in environmental performance and the adoption of cleaner technologies,
    (d) to provide incentives that are complementary to existing regulation and education programs for environment protection.'
  • to improve the effectiveness of the LBL scheme in driving reductions in air and water pollutant emissions
  • to improve the efficiency and ease of use of the scheme for licensees and the EPA
  • to ensure the scheme has a complete range of tools.

Outline of the review process

The LBL review has four key deliverables:

  • An issues  paper to allow for public consultation, including discussion of key issues, trends, LBL licensee survey results, and options for improvements. [Completed]
  • A proposal paper, including a more refined proposal for improving the LBL scheme based on further analysis and stakeholder feedback from the issues paper.
  • A final report, including final recommendations for improving the LBL scheme and proposed amendments, including:
    • a draft amendment regulation for public exhibition
    • a draft amended Load Calculation Protocol for public exhibition.
  • A final amendment package, including:
    • a Better Regulation Statement, if the proposed changes are significant, to be published on the EPA’s website
    • the final amendment regulation to be published on the Legislation NSW website
    • the final amended load calculation protocol to be published in the NSW Government Gazette.

Load-based licensing review timeframe

It is anticipated that the LBL review will be completed by mid-2018 followed by implementation. The figure below provides an indicative timeframe for each stage of the review.

Figure showing load-based licensing process

Stay informed

If you would like to be kept informed of the progress of the LBL review, please provide your contact details to the LBL review team. You can also use this email address to raise specific issues about the LBL scheme with the EPA or seek more information.

Page last updated: 14 September 2017