Proposed changes to NSW Environmental Laws

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSWEPA) has recently completed a comprehensive review of a critical piece of environmental legislation that has significant implications for all elements of the fuel supply chain. This includes specific controls on the equipment used for fuel storage, tanker loading, fuel transportation and fuel retailing.

The proposed changes are intended to replace the existing regulation and are presented in the Draft Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022. The EPA is now seeking feedback on the proposed legislation with consultation open until 3 June 2022.

The revised legislation has been prepared in response to a statutory review of the existing regulation. According to the NSW EPA advice received today, the proposed changes are intended to ‘deliver better outcomes for the environment’ and include:

  1. Requiring cleaner, lower volatility petrol to be supplied for an extra month over summer to reduce ozone.
  2. Stricter emission limits and controls for volatile organic liquids in storage tanks, loading plant and tank vehicles.
  3. Requiring older activities and plant – which started operating or were upgraded between 1979 and 1997 – to comply with more stringent air emission standards to create a level playing field.
  4. Changes that will lead to a reduction in pollutants like benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

A full copy of the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) that outlines the proposed changes – and presents the rationale for these changes – can be downloaded via the following link: https://acapmag.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/RIS-Clean-Air-Reg.pdf.

“Importantly, this particular piece of environmental legislation is largely mirrored in similar regulations in other Australian States and Territories. Consequently, the NSW Review has potential implications for our industry as a whole if the proposed changes are subsequently adopted by other jurisdictions,” said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

While ACAPMA acknowledges that fuel businesses should rightly comply with all reasonable business practices designed to reduce the risk of environmental harm, there is also a need for governments to be careful about imposing regulatory processes that increase business costs unnecessarily (or deliver only marginal improvement for the community at a disproportionately high cost to business and industry) – as these costs will inevitably flow through to motorists.

“The need for care in regulatory actions is particularly acute at the moment given that many fuel businesses are recovering from two years of damage wrought by the pandemic (as well as being hit by bushfires and floods) and given national inflationary pressures and global uncertainty are making the community hypersensitive to fuel price increases”, added Mark.

Given the current economic uncertainty and price sensitivity, ACAPMA will be undertaking an extensive review of the proposed changes and preparing a formal submission to the consultation process.

This process will include an online member forum (to be conducted in the week commencing 23 May 2022) where ACAPMA will provide a high-level overview of the changes and seek feedback from members on possible areas of concern. The outcomes of this forum will be used to identify any priority areas of concern – and discuss possible responses to these concerns.

Members wishing to attend this Forum are asked to register their interest by emailing markm@acapma.com.au (or calling ACAPMA on 1300 160 270) before 4pm on Friday 20 May 2022.

ACAPMA

Published with permission from ACAPMA.

Source: https://acapmag.com.au/2022/05/proposed-changes-to-nsw-environmental-laws/.

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