Compliance and enforcement programs

The Office of Environment and Heritage has legal responsibility to protect the natural environment, and cultural and historic heritage assets across NSW. To meet these requirements we oversee a range of programs and activities that promote compliance with the law, and monitor non-compliance.

Person in yellow hard hat, orange vest with back-pack and holding clip board walking across cleared land.

Our compliance and enforcement work upholds government legislation and ensures fair and safe application of the law. The focus of this work is to protect the environment and achieve better environmental outcomes for New South Wales.

Programs

Our compliance and enforcement programs complement other OEH and NSW government programs, such as funding by the NSW Environmental Trust and Biodiversity Conservation Trust, strategic land-use planning and education, and community engagement. These programs aim to ensure our environment and heritage is valued, protected and sustainably managed.

What we do

Through education, support, monitoring, investigation and regulatory action, we optimise compliance with:

How we work

We work to:

  • encourage compliance and best practice in environmental protection management
  • detect potential breaches of the law through surveillance and community outreach
  • analyse land-change satellite imagery to monitor vegetation change across New South Wales
  • investigate potential breaches of the law using a risk-based approach to prioritise compliance isues and focus on the highest conservation priorities across New South Wales
  • remediate harm to the environment and provide community-wide deterrence.

Outcomes

Outcomes we deliver for the community and the environment across New South Wales include:

  • improved compliance with environment and heritage protection laws
  • prevention of unlawful vegetation clearing and harm, damage and cumulative impacts to biodiversity at a bioregional scale
  • maintaining the integrity of state-wide regulatory frameworks that govern biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • remediation of harmed ecosystems and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Compliance functions

OEH takes a risk-based, outcomes-focussed approach to prioritise compliance issues across New South Wales. We help people to comply with the law but take firm and fair enforcement action for matters that are intentional and cause significant harm to the environment. Our work is undertaken in accordance with our Compliance Policy (PDF 542KB).

Our compliance staff uphold the values and principles outlined in the Compliance Culture Statement.

We have a range of compliance and enforcement options to respond to breaches of the law.

Prosecution Guidelines

The OEH Prosecution Guidelines contain the factors we consider when deciding whether, how and in what court to prosecute offences. 

Enforceable undertakings

The Chief Executive of OEH can accept an enforceable undertaking for matters under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Our Guidelines for Enforceable Undertakings contain details about the purpose of enforceable undertakings, possible terms of any negotiated enforceable undertaking, and factors we consider when deciding whether to accept an enforceable undertaking.

The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) is the primary legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in New South Wales. The NPW Act provides specific protection for Aboriginal objects and declared Aboriginal places.

More information about the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage and Aboriginal cultural heritage reforms is available.

From 25 August 2017, OEH is responsible for compliance and enforcement of Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013. Under this new legislation we work to achieve a balance between protecting biodiversity, allowing lawful clearing and preventing unlawful clearing. We also ensure that serious unlawful activity under the previous legislation, the Native Vegetation Act 2003, will be pursued.

Consistent with NSW Government policy, we will continue to assess potential unlawful clearing activities that may have occurred before 25 August 2017 as possible breaches of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act), in accordance with the OEH Prosecution Guidelines and the OEH Compliance Policy.

More information about the regulation of native vegetation and OEH’s compliance and enforcement work under the Local Land Services Act 2013 is available.  

Native animals are protected in New South Wales by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). OEH is responsible for conserving and managing all protected plants and animals, including kangaroos. Under the BC Act, it is an offence to harm, buy or sell kangaroos for commercial purposes without a licence.

The main goal of our kangaroo management program is conservation. We work to ensure kangaroo populations are harvested humanely and populations remain ecologically sustainable.

More information about kangaroo management is available.