Mining Act 1992
The objectives of the Mining Act 1992 are to:
‘...encourage and facilitate the discovery and development of mineral resources in New South Wales, having regard to the need to encourage ecologically sustainable development, and in particular:
to recognise and foster the significant social and economic benefits to New South Wales that result from the efficient development of mineral resources, and
to provide an integrated framework for the effective regulation of authorisations for prospecting and mining operations, and
to provide a framework for compensation to landholders for loss or damage resulting from such operations, and
to ensure an appropriate return to the State from mineral resources, and
to require the payment of security to provide for the rehabilitation of mine sites, and
to ensure effective rehabilitation of disturbed land and water, and
to ensure mineral resources are identified and developed in ways that minimise impacts on the environment.’[i]
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Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991
The Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 is the legislation through which onshore exploration and production of petroleum (oil and conventional or unconventional gas) is regulated.
The Act enables the licensing of petroleum exploration and production titles and also addresses environmental protection, royalties and compensation.
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Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
The objectives of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 are:
‘(a) to encourage:
(i) the proper management, development and conservation of natural and artificial resources, including agricultural land, natural areas, forests, minerals, water, cities, towns and villages for the purpose of promoting the social and economic welfare of the community and a better environment,
(ii) the promotion and co-ordination of the orderly and economic use and development of land,
(iii) the protection, provision and co-ordination of communication and utility services,
(iv) the provision of land for public purposes,
(v) the provision and co-ordination of community services and facilities, and
(vi) the protection of the environment, including the protection and conservation of native animals and plants, including threatened species, populations and ecological communities, and their habitats, and
(vii) ecologically sustainable development, and
(viii) the provision and maintenance of affordable housing, and
(b) to promote the sharing of the responsibility for environmental planning between the different levels of government in the State, and
(c) to provide increased opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment.'
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Water Management Act 2000
The objective of the Water Management Act 2000 is to allow the sustainable and integrated management of the State's water for the benefit of both present and future generations.
The Water Management Act 2000 applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development which are defined in section 6(2) of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991 and require the effective integration of economic and environmental considerations in decision-making processes.
As a result the Water Management Act 2000 recognises the need to allocate and provide water for the environmental health of our rivers and groundwater systems, while also providing licence holders with more secure access to water and greater opportunities to trade water through the separation of water licences from land.
The main tool the Act provides for managing the State's water resources are water sharing plans. These are used to set out the rules for the sharing of water in a particular water source between water users and the environment and rules for the trading of water in and between water sources.
The Act has been progressively implemented through the commencement of water sharing plans marking the transition from the Water Act 1912 to the new Act. The first plans commenced in mid-2004, and these areas cover most of the state’s major regulated river systems and therefore the largest areas of water extraction. In the following nine years, the entire Murray-Darling Basin (both surface and groundwater) is now covered by water sharing plans and most of the coastal strip is also covered.
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Water Act 1912
The Water Act 1912 is being progressively phased out and replaced by the Water Management Act 2000, but some provisions are still in force.
Water in the State not covered by a water sharing plan is still regulated by the Water Act 1912.
Under the Water Act 1912, licences can be issued without needing to meet the requirements of a ‘minimal harm test’, and need to be renewed every 5 years and water trading is limited to landholders only.
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Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
The objectives of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 are:
‘(a) to protect, restore and enhance the quality of the environment in New South Wales, having regard to the need to maintain ecologically sustainable development,
(b) to provide increased opportunities for public involvement and participation in environment protection,
(c) to ensure that the community has access to relevant and meaningful information about pollution,
(d) to reduce risks to human health and prevent the degradation of the environment by the use of mechanisms that promote the following:
(i) pollution prevention and cleaner production,
(ii) the reduction to harmless levels of the discharge of substances likely to cause harm to the environment,
(iia) the elimination of harmful wastes,
(iii) the reduction in the use of materials and the re-use, recovery or recycling of materials,
(iv) the making of progressive environmental improvements, including the reduction of pollution at source,
(v) the monitoring and reporting of environmental quality on a regular basis,
(e) to rationalise, simplify and strengthen the regulatory framework for environment protection,
(f) to improve the efficiency of administration of the environment protection legislation,
(g) to assist in the achievement of the objectives of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001.’
Mining and petroleum operations need an Environmental Protection Licence issued under the Act to operate, and it enables officers of the Environmental Protection Authority to enter private land to inspect operations and respond to incidents
Holders of Environment Protection Licences must also provide an annual report to the Environmental Protection Authority that is a record of compliance with licence conditions. Licences, annual returns and regulatory actions are available to the community from the Environmental Protection Agencies public register.
To search for environmental protection licences applications, notices, audits or pollution studies and reduction programs visit:
To view or download the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 visit: