NSW EPA seeks comment on polluter pays Financial Assurance Policy

The NSW EPA is seeking comments and submissions on proposed measures that aim to ensure individuals and companies responsible for pollution or contamination pay the clean-up costs.

According to EPA Executive Director Regulatory Practice Nancy Chang, the EPA operates under a polluter pays principle, but when the polluter couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for the clean-up, the burden should is often left with NSW taxpayers.

“Under these proposed new measures, the EPA will take a risk-based approach to assess whether activities are of a high enough risk to need a financial assurance,” Ms Chang said.

“The NSW EPA is seeking comments and submissions on two draft policies that aim to provide a clear and consistent approach for how the EPA will manage potential environmental liabilities.”

Draft Policies under consideration: 

Financial Assurance Policy: this will help regulated companies or individuals identify when the EPA may require a financial assurance.

The draft policy includes a risk categorisation tool that the EPA will apply to determine whether a financial assurance is justified due to the degree of risk of environmental harm, the remediation or other work that may be required, or the environmental record of the regulated party.

Guideline on Estimating Financial Assurances: this will help regulated companies or individuals to obtain an independent assessment of costs where the EPA has determined that a financial assurance is required.

This draft guideline provides a transparent and consistent method for estimating these financial assurances. According to an EPA statement, the draft guideline has been reviewed by accounting and auditing experts to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Consultation is now open and closes 14 April.

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