Compliance audit program
Ensuring industry, government and the community comply with environmental legislation is fundamental to environment protection and the delivery of credible cost-effective regulation. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) uses compliance audits as a tool to complement its regulatory activities.
Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Reviews
The EPA undertakes a program of Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Reviews. The aim of these reviews is to encourage industries to improve their environmental performance. The reviews combine assessing compliance with legislative requirements along with reviewing best environmental management practices to encourage improved environmental performance. Public reports are released and the review findings feed into licence reviews and ongoing compliance activities. Reviews also involve undertaking consultation with external stakeholders during various stages of the process, including upfront feedback on priority setting.
What are the objectives of the Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Reviews?
The objectives of the reviews are to:
- identify best environmental management practices
- assess compliance with relevant legislative requirements at a representative selection of premises via auditing, and examine environmental controls and practices at those premises
- improve regulation and the environmental performance of both licensed and non-licensed activities
- work with other regulators and communicate the outcomes of reviews
- provide the community with opportunities to provide input
- facilitate linkages between the reviews and programs being undertaken by other areas of the EPA.
How do we choose the activities and sectors for review?
The reviews focus on priority environmental issues. Sectors and activities targeted are chosen by assessing major environmental and community concerns alongside the EPA's corporate objectives and strategies. Criteria considered include: the likelihood of environmental harm to human health and the environment from an activity; the nature of hazards associated with chemicals used; the complexity of the activity; emissions and wastes from the activity; gaps in understanding the activity; environmental performance; location of the activity; community concern; the opportunity to make significant environmental gains in relation to the activity; and opportunities to integrate with other EPA programs.
Other compliance audits
The EPA also undertakes focused compliance audits conducted on any enterprise it regulates.
Compliance audits assess an enterprise's compliance with environmental legislation and regulatory requirements. These audits are generally unannounced.
The EPA also reviews its regulation of individual premises and industry sectors to identify areas where improved regulation will help achieve the desired environmental outcomes. This may include the use of other tools such as education, consultation and negotiation, and enforcement.
The EPA also undertakes audit programs or campaigns with other government agencies.
Compliance audit handbook
Audits are conducted in accordance with the procedures and protocols in the Compliance audit handbook (cahandbook0613.pdf, 542 KB). These procedures are designed to ensure a consistent approach to audits, helping to ensure they are all adequate, reliable and comparable.
The handbook is a guide for EPA officers but may also be used by other organisations undertaking compliance audits including public authorities, industry and industry groups, professional associations, consultants and contractors; and as an educational resource by students.
Reporting compliance audit findings
The findings of each audit and a follow-up action program based on the audit findings are reported in a compliance audit report which is sent to the audited enterprise. Copies of each audit report are available to the public through the EPA's library. The EPA follows up with each audited enterprise to ensure that all issues are resolved.
Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Reviews allow the EPA to identify common issues contributing to any failure to comply by the audited sector or activity and other issues of environmental concern. These issues, together with information on best environmental management practices to improve environmental performance, are reported in Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Review Reports.
The EPA uses these findings to review how its resources could best be channelled to guide industry overall to address the issues identified in the report. Businesses audited benefit by understanding and managing the environmental and business risk of operating in their industries. Review findings are also a valuable resource to assist other regulators such as local councils to undertake their compliance activities.
The following Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Review Reports have been published (reports provided as PDF require acrobat reader).
Joint inter-agency compliance audits - Environmental Compliance and Performance Report
The following compliance audit campaign was a whole-of-government initiative conducted jointly by the EPA (formerly the Office of Environment and Heritage), the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (formerly the NSW Department of Planning) and the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (formerly Industry and Investment NSW).
Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Review Reports
Environmental Compliance Report - Liquid Chemical Storage, Handling and Spill Management
Environmental Compliance Report - Wood Preservation Industry
Other compliance audit reports published on industry sectors
Other compliance audit reports
Other audit activities
Page last updated: 12 July 2012