Compliance and enforcement programs

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has a legal responsibility to protect the natural environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage across New South Wales. To meet these requirements, we oversee a range of programs and activities to 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. This work focuses on protecting the environment and Aboriginal cultural heritage to achieve better environmental outcomes for New South Wales.

Programs

Our compliance and enforcement programs complement other 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 Aboriginal cultural heritage are valued, protected and sustainably managed.

What we do

We protect, preserve and strengthen the quality of the natural environment, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, and native species by applying a robust and trusted compliance program.

We prevent the unlawful loss, reduce harm, and contribute to the rehabilitation of these through education, engagement and enforcement.

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 across New South Wales
  • investigate potential breaches of the law using a risk-based approach to critical compliance issues and focus on the highest conservation priorities across New South Wales
  • remediate harm to the environment and provide community-wide deterrence.

Outcomes

We coregulate with other agencies, educate and engage with stakeholders and use the best available data and science when making decisions.

We deliver:

  • improved compliance with environmental and Aboriginal cultural heritage protection laws
  • prevention of unlawful vegetation clearing and harm, damage and cumulative impacts to biodiversity
  • integrity of statewide regulatory frameworks that govern biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • remediation of damaged ecosystems and Aboriginal cultural heritage and, importantly, high-quality customer experiences.

Compliance functions

The Biodiversity and Conservation Division 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.

Our values and conduct

We adopt the NSW Public Sector and the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water values as our underpinning values. In addition, we embrace the values of respect and fairness.

Our behaviour and actions will be in keeping with the department's Code of Ethics and Conduct and Compliance Policy.

Helping people comply

We recognise community diversity and acknowledge the breadth of expertise, experiences and values amongst the people we work with.

In working with the community, we seek to respect people’s circumstances and understand community perceptions of conservation values. We will work with the community, providing information and education where required, to encourage the conservation and protection of NSW environment and heritage.

Focus on conservation outcomes

We follow a graduated approach to compliance and enforcement to protect the environment and heritage in New South Wales. Wherever possible, our officers will deliver compliance actions and regulatory responses that are appropriate and proportionate to the level of harm to environment and heritage values.

We will also publicise important regulatory outcomes to demonstrate our commitment to conserving these values and to deter offences within the community.

Regulating firmly and fairly

We enforce the laws we administer professionally, consistently and fairly. We will ensure transparent and evidence-based compliance decisions. We will regularly evaluate compliance and enforcement policies and approaches to achieve these aims.

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

Prosecution Guidelines

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

Enforceable undertakings

The Environment, Energy and Science Coordinator-General can accept an enforceable undertaking for matters under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and land management matters under the Local Land Services Act 2013. 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 is available.

To report harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage items or sites call the Environment Line phone 131 555.

The Department manages compliance under the NPW Act. 

It is an offence to knowingly or unknowingly harm or desecrate Aboriginal Places and objects, without an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit or in some cases, unless an exemption applies. The strict liability offences penalties are outlined in Section 86 of the NPW Act. The exemptions are outlined in Section 87A of the NPW Act. 

From 25 August 2017, Biodiversity and Conservation Division is responsible for compliance and enforcement of Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013. Under this 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 (NV Act), will be pursued.

Consistent with our Policy for resolving NV Act matters, we will continue to assess potential unlawful clearing activities that may have occurred before 25 August 2017 as possible breaches of the NV Act, in accordance with the Prosecution Guidelines and Compliance Policy.

More information about our 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). We are 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.