Local government to take responsibility for NSW Vapour Recovery laws
In 2010 the EPA introduced changes under the under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 requiring that service stations operating in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area (Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coast and Wollongong) and the Hunter and Illawarra Regions installed vapour recovery technologies at their sites.
Under the laws, approximately 1240 service stations were required to install or upgrade to Vapour Recovery Stage 1 (VR1) technology by January 2015. Service stations selling more than 3.5M litres of petrol in these locations are required to have installed Vapour Recovery Stage 2 (VR2) technologies by 1 January 2017.
In addition, any sites in the affected locations that are new or have been modified since 2009 are required to comply with the VR2 requirements if they sell more than 0.5M litres of petrol
The laws have been somewhat controversial for industry and there remains a significant question about the net environmental effectiveness of these laws, which have come at significant cost to the NSW retail fuels industry in recent years.
“Interestingly, and despite statutory provision for a review of the effectiveness of these laws after 5 years, the NSW Premier waved the requirement for a review of the laws last year”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.
Nonetheless, the laws have been in place for a number of years and have been gradually implemented on a staged basis over the past 6 years.
With the final stage of implementation being finalised next month, the NSW Government is preparing to hand the compliance management responsibility to all of the local councils in the affected regions.
The NSW EPA has advised that the responsibility for compliance management of the VR1 and VR2 Regulations will be transitioned to local councils from 31 January 2017.
In a recent letter to ACAPMA, NSW EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier advised that: “The EPA will continue to provide support to Councils and complete its compliance program up to 30 June 2017. To facilitate a smooth transition process, the EPA is working in collaboration with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) to engage with relevant local councils to build their VR Regulatory capacity”.
The EPA has also recently prepared a draft revision of the VR Guidelines for the installation of VR Equipment at Service Stations. These draft guidelines have been the subject of a recent consultative review and can be found at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/air/standards-guidelines-vapour-recovery-petrol-service-stations-160586.pdf.
Over coming weeks, the EPA will be conducting a series of workshops to discuss the transition arrangements and the new draft guidelines. Details of these workshops can be found on the EPA Vapour Recovery (VR) website.
Any retail business that remains unsure of their compliance obligations for VR1 and VR2 is encouraged to view the detail provided on the VR website at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/air/petrolvapour.htm or contact the EPA on 131 555, (02) 9995 5555 or email the NSW EPA team at firstname.lastname@example.org