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NSW rolls on with risk-based licencing

The NSW EPA has published new rules on risk-based licencing - which rewards the safe and punishing the risky.

A change slated since April this year, the new risk based system ranks facilities on an environmental risk category scale (1 to 3) as well as an environmental management category (A, B, C, D or E).

Higher risk facilities will pay higher licence fees, while lower risk facilities will pay lower fees.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ response to non-compliance and the choice of regulatory action depends on the issue, context and actual or potential environmental impact,” the EPA wrote in a statement on the changes.

Now, the EPA have published a series of guidelines which outline what improvements reduce licence fees, how the systems work as well as case studies where situations are “new ... or complex”.

MRA Consulting Group, who have undertaken several risk-based assessments, wrote there is “nothing to fear” in the process.

“Licensees who minimise their environmental risk (by physical works, buildings or better environmental procedures), have lower licence fees ... Poorer performers pay more.”

“The risk levels allocated to each licence will also be made available on the EPA’s Public Register, so it is important to put your best foot forward.”

For existing licence holders, there is a potential ROI opportunity for those who believe they are low risk, as undertaking an EPA assessment may result in reduced licence fees.