Recent changes to environmental legislation in NSW are part of a push to empower the EPA and to broaden the enforcement options under Contaminated Lands Act.  ACAPMA reviews the changes to the legislation below and draws out how the changes will impact on members and the industry.

As of January 1, 2015 the Protection of the Environment Amendment Legislation Act (NSW) 2014 (POELA Act) came into effect in New South Wales. Central to the purpose of this Act are the amendments to the Contaminated Lands Act (NSW) 1997 (CLM Act) which affect the actions and penalties which the NSW EPA and the courts can take against offenders.

Under these changes to the legislation the NSW EPA will have the power to require a person issued with a management order to provide financial assurance to ensure that the prescribed actions required by an order from the EPA is undertaken. This will assist the EPA in ensuring that sufficient financial support is obtained to cover all expenses relating to the management of contaminated land in the event that the offender is no longer able to meet those costs.

The POELA Act also bestows upon the Land and Environments Court the ability to hand down a variety of orders to offenders. Included within these is the power to impose upon an offend a Monetary Benefit Order which will see the offender to pay an additional penalty which represents any level of monetary benefit which the offender received as a dividend from committing the offence, the ability to force and offender to publicise their offence and any repercussions, and the need for them to undertake enforceable undertakings such as restoration actions.

Central among these changes is the increase in the maximum possible penalties which can be handed down to a corporation or an individual. Changes to the penalties for management orders, statutory site audits, duty to report contamination, authorised officers and false or misleading information. This sees the maximum possible penalties for an individual range from $66,000.00 and $250,000.00 depending on the offence, and then for additional, different penalties to apply to repeat offenders.

Finally these changes allow for the liability of offenders to remain for continuing offences and the effects of any notices, orders and conditions which are placed on them.

ACAPMA is dedicated to continue to work with Members, Government and Industry Stakeholders to assist with compliance and the ongoing development of solutions to provide for a sustainable future for both the environment and industry.

If any members require further assistance on this matter they are invited to contact ACAPMA on 1300 160 270 or via email at assist@acapma.com.au.