Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Environment protection licences

Licensing FAQs

Back to top

Environment protection licences and notices

What is an environment protection licence?

In 1999 the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) introduced environment protection licences to replace licences granted under the Pollution Control Act and the Waste Minimisation and Management Act. An environment protection licence is an integrated licence that regulates air, noise, water and waste environmental impacts.

How do I find individual licence conditions?

Individual conditions are listed in each licence. Follow the view licence link on the licence summary page.

How do I find generic licence conditions for a particular industry?

Search using the activity type option which best represents the industry.

What is the date of completion of a review of a licence?

The POEO Act requires that the EPA review a licence regularly after the issue of the licence, as set out in Part 3.6 of the Act. See POEO Act Part 3.6. The date of completion of the licence review is displayed under the licence details.

What is the purpose of licence review?

The licence review process complies with the requirements of s. 78 of the POEO Act and improves consistency both within individual licences and across industry sectors.

See Review of licences for details of the licence review process and a list of licences under review.

Why are licences included in the search results for notices and applications?

Many notices and applications are issued to holders of an environment protection licence. Where a notice or application that matches your search is attached to a licence, the licence is listed in the search results.

Why are some notices listed without an associated licence?

Notices can be issued to individuals or organisations that do not hold a licence, for example notices issued for littering.

What does 'received' mean in a licence application?

'Received' is the date the EPA received all the information required to begin processing a licence application, for which 60 days is provided. It is not necessarily the date the licence application form was received by the EPA.

What does 'no longer in force' mean?

If the status of a licence is 'no longer in force' it means that the activity no longer requires a licence due to an amendment to Schedule 1 of the POEO Act. However, the EPA remains the Appropriate Regulatory Authority (ARA) for these premises.

What does an 'environmental risk level' mean?

Environmental risk levels are part of the EPA's risk-based licensing system. The EPA's risk-based licensing system aims to ensure that all licensees receive an appropriate level of regulation based on the level of risk they pose. Moving to a risk-based system is an important and positive change to environmental protection licensing in NSW.

For further information on how the EPA determines risk levels and how the EPA approaches the regulation of risk levels see the Risk-based licensing page.

Activity types

What is an activity type?

The activity types in the drop down list on the search page are Fee-based activities according to Schedule 1 of the POEO (General) Regulation 2009 as opposed to Scheduled activities according to Schedule 1 of the POEO Act.

What is the difference between a scheduled activity and a fee-based activity?

Scheduled activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the POEO Act and are required to be licensed by the EPA.

Fee-based activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the POEO (General) Regulation 2009 which determines licence fees for each scheduled activity.

Fees including load-based licensing

What is an administrative fee?

This is a fee that must be paid by licensees at the start of each licence fee period. For details of how the administrative fee is calculated, see section 6.2 of Guide to Licensing - Part A.

Where can I find more information on load-based licensing?

Why is some load-based licensing data not available?

Electronic LBL data is only available from 1 July 2002. For more information contact OEH.

What are load reduction agreements?

Load reduction agreements (LRAs) are voluntary agreements between licensees with assessable pollutants and the EPA, pursuant to Division 4 of the POEO (General) Regulation. They provide immediate fee reductions for companies willing to commit to future reductions of assessable pollutants, thereby freeing funds for investment  in improved environmental performance.

Agreements last for a maximum of four years, giving licensees up to three full years to implement upgrades and one to demonstrate attainment of the agreed load.

Where is the summary of the conclusions of mandatory audit reports?

The link to View Audit appears on the licence summary only if a mandatory audit has been carried out for that particular licence.

Non-compliance with licence conditions

Where are the statement of compliance details?

Statements of compliance are included in the licensee's annual return which must be submitted at the end of their licence fee period. The statement of compliance details are displayed on the licence summary page.

What is non-compliance?

Under section 66(3) of the POEO Act, licensees are required to submit details of the nature and extent of any non-compliance with their licence conditions.

In relation to non-compliances, licensees are also required to supply details that describe:

  • what action has been, or will be, taken to mitigate any adverse effects of the non-compliance, and;
  • what action has been, or will be, taken to prevent a recurrence of the non-compliance.

To obtain information on actions taken in relation to specific non-compliances you may wish to approach the licensee directly. 

Why does the No. of incidences of non-compliance indicate 1 when in some cases the Type of non-compliance describes more than one incident?

Prior to September 2004, database functionality for recording the number of incidences of non-compliances was not available. For more information contact OEH.

Legal cases

What is the difference between convictions in prosecutions under the POEO Act, or the results of civil proceedings?

Criminal prosecutions can be brought when a person is alleged to have committed an offence created by legislation such as the POEO Act. These must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The penalties that result from criminal convictions are punitive: a fine or gaol sentence can only be ordered in a criminal matter. The parties to criminal proceedings are called the Prosecutor and the Defendant(s).

Civil proceedings can involve other members of society i.e. to commence civil proceedings one does not have to be a government authority. A person might begin civil proceedings to appeal licence conditions or to recover the costs of the clean-up of a spill. The EPA can also bring civil proceedings to obtain orders that a person comply with or to repair environmental harm they caused.

Why is the EPA, not the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), the prosecutor?

The EPA is a body created by the Protection of the Environment Administration Act, and has various powers and functions conferred on it by that Act, including the power to prosecute.

The OEH is the government department that employs staff but section 217 of the POEO Act provides that bodies who can take proceedings for breaches of the Act are the EPA or the other appropriate regulatory authority for that activity.

What is the significance of the court number?

The more serious proceedings are generally brought in the Land and Environment Court, which numbers cases as follows. The first digit in the court number is the most significant, as it indicates the class of jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court the matter also falls into. The Land and Environment Court has 7 classes of jurisdiction. The classes are as follows:

  • Class 1 - environment planning and protection appeals (including appeals against licence conditions and notices)
  • Class 2 - local government and miscellaneous appeals and applications (this class is unlikely to involve OEH)
  • Class 3 - land tenure, valuation, rating and compensation matters (for example, concerning the valuation of land resumed for a national park)
  • Class 4 - environment planning and protection and development contract civil enforcement (most civil matters including those seeking court orders by way of enforcement and contempt, or brought by other persons to challenge decisions made by OEH)
  • Class 5 - environmental planning and protection summary enforcement (this is the criminal jurisdiction of the court)
  • Class 6 - appeals from convictions relating to environmental offences (such as appeals from Local Court convictions)
  • Class 7 - other appeals relating to environmental offences

Therefore, if the first digit in the court number is a '1', then the matter relates to Class 1 proceedings and so on. The remainder of the number refers to the order in which the matter was received by the court (matters are number chronologically), and the year in which the matter was commenced in court.

Page last updated: 30 June 2015