Focus area: NSW Clean Air Strategy – 2023 Implementation highlights

The NSW Clean Air Strategy 2021-30 is the whole-of-government approach to improving air quality and health in cities and regions throughout New South Wales.

Agencies across NSW Government are delivering the Clean Air Strategy actions under 5 key priority areas.

Air Monitoring

Better preparedness for pollution events

  • Established a new air quality forecasting model (WRF-CMAQ) and updated smoke modelling module for better air pollution predictions during bushfire events.
  • Implemented low-cost sensors in the local government areas of participating councils, generating data to use in local air quality interventions or initiatives.
  • Implemented an online Air Quality Collaboration Hub that will become a trusted source of information on using low-cost air quality sensing to address air quality issues.
  • Through cross-agency collaboration between the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), installed monitors to collect air quality and meteorological data as part of the department's air quality incident response activities.
  • Implemented pilot data feeds to enable council-collected environmental data to be available on the NSW SEED (Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data) environmental data portal.
  • Developed digital information resources that will allow councils to use air quality sensing technologies to address air quality issues.
  • Published Stage 2 of the Sydney Air Quality Study, providing updated information on the health and economic costs of air pollution in Sydney and the Greater Metropolitan Region.
  • Working with the Australian Research Data Commons (ADRC) Bushfire Data Challenges program, provided updated information on bushfire smoke pollution to assist health researchers.
  • Partnering with the Healthy Environments and Lives National Research Network (HEAL), advanced research into the health impacts of air pollution in New South Wales.


Clean industry

Cleaner industry

  • Announced the successful projects from the inaugural tender round for new generation and long-duration storage long term energy service agreements (LTESAs). Three renewable energy projects with a capacity of 1,395 MW (4,009 GWh) and one long-duration storage lithium-ion battery project with a continuous discharge capacity of at least 8 hours were awarded long term energy service agreements. These projects are expected to deliver electricity to power 700,000 homes and represent more than $2.5 billion in total investment in New South Wales's renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Continued to implement the NSW Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program, including:
    • $15.9 million in grants awarded to 12 organisations by the Clean Technology Innovation team.
    • $855,000 awarded to 4 NSW high emitting manufacturers, Orica, Tomago Aluminium, Boral and Manildra Group, to deliver Transformative Industry Projects Scoping study reports, which will directly inform these companies' decarbonisation planning toward net zero.
    • Commenced $5 million in the first stage of the $55 million Industrial Decarbonisation Plan project to develop a decarbonisation pathway and implementation plan to help regions identify and develop decarbonisation plans that recognise their unique economies and business communities.
  • Increased grant funding under the Hydrogen Hub initiative from $70 million to $150 million. The NSW Government has signed Hydrogen Hub funding agreements totalling $109 million with 3 different recipients in the Illawarra, Hunter and Moree, including green hydrogen projects to decarbonise hard-to-abate markets, such as the transport and agricultural sectors. The projects are expected to start operation in late 2025 to mid-2026.
  • The EPA engaged the University of NSW to complete a greenhouse gas survey in parts of Western Sydney aimed at helping to identify fugitive methane emissions to inform EPA regulatory approaches and improve tracking of mitigation measures.


Electric car

Cleaner transport, engines and fuels

  • In October 2023, Transport for NSW published:
    • the Towards Net Zero Emissions Freight Policy, which sets out the strategic direction and actions to support emissions reductions across the road and rail freight transport sector.
    • the Net Zero and Climate Change Policy, which sets clear targets and explains how Transport for NSW will embed emissions reduction into planning, business processes and decision-making.
  • Progressed the Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy initiatives including:
    • 49,978 fully battery-powered electric vehicles were registered in New South Wales in 2023.
    • 3,800 electric vehicles in total have been supported through the EV fleets incentive payments and 1,720 chargers to support them.
    • 167 regional tourist sites were approved for EV destination charging grants in round 1 of the program. Most of these sites have installed their chargers. Round 2 grants opened in November 2023.
    • 104 EV fast charging stations were approved in round 2 of the program, bringing the total to 190 EV fast charging stations to be added to the NSW public charging network.
    • Two new EV grant programs were launched in the second half of 2023: the EV kerbside charging grants and the EV ready building grants
  • Completed New South Wales's first hydrogen-powered electric bus trial on the NSW Central Coast, via a partnership with the NSW Government, local bus manufacturer Aluminium Revolutionary Chassis Company, Central Coast operator Red Bus and Origin Energy.
  • Partnered with the Victorian Government to jointly fund and deliver a $20 million hydrogen refuelling initiative to establish Australia's first hydrogen refuelling corridor. Applications have been assessed, and funding for successful projects is to be announced in 2024.
  • 15 agencies reported they are compliant with Government Resource Efficiency Policy requirements for cleaner mobile non-road diesel plant and equipment in purchasing and leasing decisions. No agencies reported non-compliance.
  • The EPA published its Climate Change Action Plan 2023–2026 outlining actions the EPA will take as part of its evolving regulatory response to climate change to support the NSW Government's climate change actions and commitments.
  • Continued to embed the travel demand management principles and the Travel Choices behaviour program in delivering NSW transport projects to support uptake of sustainable transport.
  • Through the Travel Choices program, Transport for NSW provided support to over 200 large organisations in Sydney through major events, electronic distributions to mailing lists, and direct support to businesses through innovative behavioural science projects.


Healthy Household

Healthier households

  • Continued work on updating the Local Government Air Quality Toolkit to support local council officers in effectively managing air quality in their communities, including new guidance on managing neighbourhood wood smoke.
  • Improved BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) thermal performance and energy efficiency standards in the new State Environmental Planning Policy (Sustainable Buildings) 2022, which came into effect on 1 October 2023, making new homes warmer in winter, reducing reliance on wood heaters, and encouraging installation of clean and energy-efficient heating systems such as reverse cycle air-conditioners.


Better city

Better places

  • Continued to support Greater Sydney councils in strengthening strategic management of the urban forest and contributing to long-term tree canopy targets through the Greener Neighbourhoods program. Work includes supporting councils to develop locally appropriate green infrastructure targets, urban forest strategies and planning controls that ensure new development areas support urban greening.
  • Successfully launched the 2022 Greater Sydney tree canopy dataset on 26 October 2023. Data is publicly available on the SEED Portal. Data was also made available to councils and NSW Government stakeholders through a new Green Infrastructure User Interface (a spatial tool to view and analyse the data).
  • Released Western Parkland City and Central River City Strategic Cycleway Corridor program updates in February 2023 and commenced work on implementation plans for further consultation with councils in all 3 Greater Sydney cities.
  • Completed 6 pilot studies for 15-minute walkable neighbourhoods.
  • Applications opened for the 2024–25 Get NSW Active program with $60 million available to local councils, including $10 million for projects that enable walking and cycling to school.
  • Continued e-scooter trials in Lake Macquarie along with starting additional trials in Armidale and Wollongong.
  • Partnered with Greening Australia on the Cooling the Schools program, working with students and teachers to add native trees and plants to schoolyards.