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Environmental crimes set to see bigger penalties with a stronger regulator in NSW

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Sue Higginson
NSW Greens MP
17 April 2024

14 March 2024 - The NSW Government is set to introduce stronger penalties for some environmental offences bringing them more in line with current costs, effective deterrence and community expectations. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is set to be given more power to police environmental crime across industries and the state.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said “People and industries that violate environmental law in NSW must be prepared for tougher fines and penalties with these proposed changes from Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe. Penalties for environmental crimes have not increased since 2005, these increases are beyond overdue,”

“We are starting from a very low bar in NSW in terms of what polluters can get away with, but the changes proposed in this new law are a modest step towards holding the worst offenders to account. A doubling in fines for pollution and dangerous goods offences is a good place to start and harmful use of pesticides penalties are set to increase eightfold,”

“New powers for the EPA will clear the way for effective compliance action that is consistent with managing pollution and punishing perpetrators. It’s shocking that during the recent asbestos in mulch catastrophe the EPA was not able to issue Recall Notices to recall products containing asbestos from the market because it does not have the appropriate regulatory power to do so,”

“The combination of low fines and overly complex governance requirements for the EPA has created a horribly perfect storm in NSW where potential fines for pollution are factored into business decisions, this cannot continue and will hopefully start to change with this new approach,”

“Introducing the capacity for the EPA to ‘name and shame’ big polluters will be an additional deterrent to large businesses that have quietly gone about their pollution activities for too long. Investors and the community deserve the truth when it comes to the pollution of the environment and I welcome this change,”

“There is still a long way to go before environmental vandalism is properly policed in NSW, these changes alone will not make these crimes unprofitable. I support these changes, but we must recognise that this cannot be the end, it must be the beginning,” Ms Higginson said.

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Sue Higginson
NSW Greens MP
17 April 2024


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