Annual report 2010-11

The annual report is one way in which OEH reports on its performance during the financial year to the community of NSW, its stakeholders and Parliament.

The annual report is a statutory requirement under the Annual Reports (Departments) Act 1985 and the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. However, it is also a mechanism for accountability and is fundamental to good governance.

OEH was formed in April 2011 following structural changes to NSW government departments and agencies. The activities, performance and finances of OEH and its former agency, for the 2010–11 financial year, are included in the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Annual Report 2010–11. This departmental account of performance includes an outline of OEH achievements in delivering on our strategic goals:

  • sustainability and resource recovery are supported
  • a healthier and cleaner environment protecting both ecological and human health
  • integrated landscape management for long-term ecological, social, and economic sustainability.

The annual report and other useful information

Supplementary information

OEH Chief Executive's message

The Office of Environment and Heritage was formed in April 2011. I have included activities for the last quarter of the year as well as highlighting some from throughout the year by former agencies.

The year 2010–11 involved significant change and included a range of important achievements.

Supporting sustainability and resource recovery

The Sustainability Advantage program helps medium to large organisations realise savings from improved productivity and reduced resource use. In 2010–11, a further 120 organisations joined the program which now assists over 550 members across NSW. Members are achieving ongoing savings of $50 million a year from improved productivity, together with significant reductions in electricity, gas, water, and waste.

To alleviate the financial burden on low income and pensioner households and promote energy efficiency, OEH progressed the $63 million Home Power Savings Program. With over 40,000 households across NSW participating, the program helps reduce power consumption and is expected to save $10.8 million each year from household bills – this equates to average savings of $265 per household per year throughout NSW.

In addition to supporting sustainability, OEH helps the community to minimise the risks from environment changes and extreme weather. OEH established the Infrastructure Advisory Panel to coordinate and share information and approaches on considering the impact of extreme events on essential infrastructure. We also continued to progress new information on regional vulnerabilities and the Eastern Seaboard Climate Initiative to better understand east coast lows. The Coastal Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010 brought in arrangements to help achieve the difficult balance between coastal protection, coastal erosion, and damage to beaches.

An essential element in effective decision making on environmental issues by government, business, and the community is the availability of accurate and relevant applied scientific knowledge. OEH provided catchment management authorities and regional managers with critical information and data for managing their local environment by completing and distributing 13 state of the catchment reports, and progressing data agreements for natural resource management monitoring, evaluation, and reporting.

Ensuring a healthier and cleaner environment

Strong and effective regulation is an essential part of OEH’s approach. In 2010–11, 106 prosecutions were completed with a very high prosecution success rate (97%). In addition 1,512 penalty infringement notices were issued by OEH imposing a fine for minor breaches of the environment protection legislation which is also administered by OEH, as well as for smoky and noisy vehicles and littering from vehicles.

A targeted audit program was also completed, with 16 audits conducted at a range of premises that hold environment protection licences. In January 2011, OEH commissioned an international best practice dust review of coal mines by independent consultants. As a result of the review, from 2011 NSW mine operators will be required to undertake best-management practice reviews to identify site specific cost-effective actions to mitigate dust emissions.

Establishment of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network –  a unique arrangement between the Hunter Valley’s mining and power industries and OEH – was commenced during the year. The first two monitoring stations, at Singleton and Muswellbrook, started operating in December 2010 and the remaining 12 monitors are expected to be online by the end of December 2011. Once fully established, the network will be the largest regional online network measuring air quality in Australia, providing community access to realtime air quality data 24 hours a day.

In 2010–11, OEH had a key role in regulating the remediation of significantly contaminated former industrial sites including the clean-up of Rhodes Peninsula, Homebush and its bay, and the Newcastle Steelworks.

Integrated landscape management

During the year, a further 111,617 hectares of land were added to the key responsibility of managing public lands under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, which means OEH now manages 7 million hectares of land (8.83% of NSW). This additional area included an important wildlife corridor to Goolawah National Park, and NSW’s newest Aboriginal-owned national park, Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park.

OEH also successfully completed a range of works to ensure that the community can safely and appropriately access these important natural areas, including completion of the new Yuraygir Coastal Walk and stabilisation works at several former Snowy Scheme sites in Kosciuszko National Park.

The National Parks Estate (Riverina Red Gum Reservations) Act 2010 commenced on 1 July 2010, establishing over 100,000 hectares of river red gum reserves, including 65,922 hectares of national parks, 15,286 hectares of regional parks, and 20,684 hectares of indigenous protected areas. Significant steps were taken to establish a scientific committee jointly with Victoria to oversee the adaptive management of these areas and to deliver a Regional Community Development Grant Program.

OEH also continued to work with private landowners across NSW using a range of partnership models to suit a diverse range of needs while achieving clear benefits for NSW’s natural resources and biodiversity. One of these programs – the Biodiversity Banking and Offsets Scheme (BioBanking) – is a market-based arrangement that provides for the securing of biodiversity offsets. The first biobanking agreement was signed in May 2010, and in 2010–11 OEH issued an additional five biobanking agreements and three statements. At the end of the year, more than 260 hectares had been conserved in the greater Sydney region with a further 1,650 hectares expected to become biobank sites in the near future.

Finally, I would like to thank all the dedicated staff and the many boards and advisory councils that work with us to help deliver important services and environmental outcomes for the NSW community.

Lisa Corbyn
Chief Executive, OEH

Key OEH highlights for 2010-11

  • Leading NSW’s response to sustainability and resource recovery, particularly regarding energy efficiency for households, businesses, local communities and government agencies.
  • Providing a healthier and cleaner environment, including establishing the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network.
  • Providing strong and effective regulation to remediate contaminated sites.
  • Increasing compliance and enforcement activities in coal mining, dust suppression, asbestos disposal, transport of dangerous goods and illegal dumping.
  • Completing significant policies and reports, including the state of the catchments reports and a NSW progress report for its 2014 recycling targets.
  • Working with local communities to respond to new coastal erosion reforms and identify opportunities for renewable energy options in regional NSW.
  • Streamlining regulation to enhance protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
  • Managing over 110,000 additional hectares of public land as part of the establishment of new national parks and reserves.
  • Promoting sustainable tourism and visitation to national parks and reserves.
  • Focusing on compliance in protecting native vegetation.


Page last updated: 29 November 2011