Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Central Coast welcomes tough new environmental reforms

Central Coast Council says it will benefit greatly from the NSW Government’s introduction of landmark environmental reforms that ensure NSW has the strongest environmental regulations of any state or territory in Australia.

Council’s Acting Director Environment and Planning, Luke Sulkowski said the reforms to existing legislation are welcomed, agreeing an overhaul and tougher penalties were needed.

“The reforms address critical loopholes in environmental legislation and ensures the NSW Environment Protection Authority and Council, as co-regulators under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), have stronger powers to deter environmental crimes and respond faster to pollution incidents,” said Mr Sulkowski.

“It means that Council can take a tougher stance on environmental crimes, including being able to issue much higher on-the-spot fines for a range of offences including pollution offences and failing to comply with lawful directions and orders.

“For example, the on-the-spot fine amount for the pollution of waters was previously $4000 for an individual and $8000 for a corporation.”

The same offence now carries a monetary penalty of $15,000 for an individual and $30,000 for a corporation for a first offence, and $22,500 for an individual and $45,000 for a corporation for another offence.

“The same new monetary penalties apply to individuals and corporations who fail to comply with directions and orders issued under the POEO Act to remedy environmental nuisances and pollution,” Mr Sulkowski said.

The NSW Government has also raised other common offences, including fines for littering small items in public places which will double to $160.

Public land managers such as councils will have authority to issue illegal dumping fines of $5,000 to companies and $1,000 to individuals, increasing to $10,000 for corporations and $2,500 for individuals if the dumping occurs in sensitive places like a school, hospital or national park.

Council Administrator, Rik Hart, applauded the NSW Government for introducing the tougher penalties and urges the community and businesses to know that Council will be implementing them in an effort to protect the Central Coast environment and community.

“We live in an amazing environment on the Central Coast, and with the stronger legislation and higher fines, I hope that individuals and organisations will think twice before they commit an environmental offence,” he said.

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