Environment Protection Licences

Answers to some commonly asked questions about Environment Protection Licences.

What is an Environment Protection Licence?

Environment Protection Licences (commonly referred to as EPLs) are licences issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for certain types of developments or activities. An EPL will have conditions attached to it, generally relating to pollution prevention and monitoring.

How do I know if I need an EPL?

Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (accessible here) lists the different types of development and activities that require an EPL. Most types of development and activities have thresholds above which a licence is required, and there are also exemptions. Whether a licence is required will depend on your specific situation.

If you are not required to hold an EPL for your activity, it is still possible to apply for a licence to regulate water pollution. An EPL can be used as a defence against a pollution of waters offences for those pollutants specifically regulated under the licence, provided that the pollutants are discharged within the limits specified in the licence.

What do I need to do before applying for an EPL?

If development consent is required for your development, it will be necessary to obtain that development consent before applying for an EPL.

If development consent is sought by way of the integrated development assessment, the EPA will be involved during the development assessment process. They may decide to issue General Terms of Approval (GTA), or the EPA may indicate it does not support the application as lodged and will not issue GTAs.

If GTAs are provided, they will form the general licence conditions in the EPL once development consent is granted.

It is also possible to apply to the EPA directly – you can access the appropriate forms by clicking here.



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Alyce is a civil engineer and a practicing lawyer, who has a desire to share her insights on the legal and practical realities of the development industry.