In most circumstances, the State (the Crown) owns the minerals and petroleum beneath the surface of the land in NSW and collects royalties from the extraction of those minerals and petroleum. The State Government regulates mineral and petroleum exploration and production, including licensing, planning and environmental assessment, approval, monitoring and enforcement under a number of different pieces of legislation. Various Ministers of the NSW Government have responsibility for aspects of mineral and petroleum exploration and production under various pieces of legislation, and several State Government departments are involved in the administration of that legislation. This section overviews the key NSW legislation and roles of NSW agencies in regulating mining and petroleum exploration and production.
NSW Government is responible for administering the bulk of legislation relating to mining and petroleum activities in NSW including, planning approvals, as well as environmental and water licencing.
For a brief outline of the NSW legislation relating to mining and petroleum in NSW see:
Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy
The Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy has portfolio responsibility for the Division of Resources and Energy within the NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development.
In relation to minerals and petroleum, the key pieces of legislation for which the Minister has responsibility are the Mining Act 1992 and the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991.
Minister for Primary Industries
The Minister for Primary Industries has portfolio responsibility for the Department of Primary Industries within NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development .
Minister for Planning
The Minister for Planning has portfolio responsibility for the Department of Planning and Environment.
In relation to minerals and petroleum the key piece of legislation for which the minister is responsible is the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Minister for Environment
The Minister for Environment has portfolio responsibility for the Office of Environment and Heritage.
In relation to minerals and petroleum the key piece of legislation for which the minister is responsible is the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Minister for Lands and Water
The Minister for Lands and Water has a broad role which intersects with the portfolio responsibilities of other ministers.
In relation to minerals and petroleum the Minister for Lands and Water has responsibility for the Water Act 1912 and the Water Management Act 2000.
In relation to the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Process, the Minister for Lands and Water provides advice on the NSW Aquifer Interference Policy for the consideration of the Gateway Panel.
The Minister also has responsibility for DPI Water, Water NSW (which covers bulk water management across NSW) and two state-owned corporations (Sydney Water and Hunter Water).
NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development
NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development is the lead economic development agency in New South Wales and is responsible for driving sustainable economic growth across the State.
The Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development includes the Department of Primary Industries, the Division of Resources and Energy, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the NSW Land and Water Commissioner.
Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development – Division of Resources and Energy[iii]
The Division of Resources and Energy is responsible for the safe and environmentally sustainable development of the NSW minerals and energy sectors. It delivers policies and programs to drive national and NSW specific energy market reforms which strengthen competition, increase consumer choice, and lower energy prices. The division facilitates resources investment and development, effective environmental management and safe production.
The business units of the division are:
Compliance & Enforcement
Geological Survey of NSW
Industry, Investment & Export Support
Operations & Programs
Communications and Engagement
Strategy, Policy & Coordination
Renewable Energy Advocate.
Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development – NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer
The role of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer is to consult with academia, industry and government to ensure scientific knowledge and research can be adapted and used to benefit NSW.
Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW
In February 2013, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer was directed by former Premier Barry O’Farrell to conduct a comprehensive review of coal seam gas-related activities in NSW, focusing on the human health and environment impacts.
In September 2014 the chief Scientist released her report which outlined a number of recommendations on reforming the regulation of the gas industry.
For more information on the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s Review of Coal Seam Gas Activity in NSW visit:
In October 2015 the government released its final report on its implementation of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations.
For more information on the Implementing the Final Report of the Chief Scientist and Engineer’s Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW visit:
Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development – Department of Primary Industries
The Department of Primary Industries is a division of the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development and works to develop and sustain diverse, profitable food and fibre industries, and ensure best practice management of the natural resources of NSW.
The Department’s responsibilities include developing profitable, sustainable and bio-secure agriculture and fisheries; ensuring best management of catchments, natural resources and water; and regulating the state’s food sector.
The Department’s branches are:
NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety
DPI Strategy and Policy
DPI Business Operations
DPI Communications and Stakeholder Engagement.
Agriculture NSW works with agricultural industries, other collaborators and stakeholders to improve the profitability, sustainability and skills of the agriculture sectors. Staff deliver research, development, extension, education and industry development programs in the fields of agricultural productivity, climate, water and soil, rural resilience and land use.
Fisheries NSW develops, shares and protects the State's fisheries resources through fisheries management, science and research, sustainable aquaculture development, habitat protection and regulation. It includes the Marine Parks Authority.
DPI Biosecurity and Food Safety
DPI Biosecurity and Food Safety is responsible for the effective management of biosecurity threats to NSW and for providing certainty in the safety and integrity of the food supply chain in NSW. The branch promotes standards for the welfare of animals in production, in exhibits or in research, and provides regional engagement and co-ordination in response to natural disasters impacting primary industries.
DPI Water leads policy and reform in sustainable water management for the state’s surface and groundwater systems and assists water utilities to provide urban water and sewerage services that benefit all NSW.
DPI Strategy and Policy
DPI Strategy & Policy leads the research, review, development and coordination of strategic policy and planning for the whole of DPI, providing policy advice to the Director General. The branch leads DPI's engagement with whole of government policy formation and intergovernmental affairs and manages policy and legislative change through Cabinet and parliamentary processes.
DPI Business Operations
DPI Business Operations is focused on the "business of the business" rather than direct management of a NSW DPI legislative division. The objective is to optimise key business and operational outcomes by applying strong commercial practices, insightful business analytics, agile delivery and lean process management. Capability will be established to lead key initiatives in areas such as commercial negotiations, major program delivery, asset management and business analytics.
DPI Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
DPI Communications & Stakeholder Engagement promotes NSW DPI's expert role in building the state's economy and, in particular, rural and regional NSW. The branch strengthens relationships with stakeholders and ensures that NSW DPI's external profile is consistent with the strategic policy direction of the NSW Government. The branch incorporates public affairs, communications, and stakeholder and regional engagement functions providing services across NSW DPI.
NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development – Land and Water Commissioner
The Land and Water Commissioner is a NSW Government position which has the broad role to ‘build community confidence in the processes governing exploration (including coal and coal seam gas exploration) activities in NSW and to oversee Land Access Arrangements between landholders and miners.’The Commissioner provides advice to landholders, the community and government on mining and coal seam gas proposals in the state, including on landholder concerns regarding exploration approvals.
For more information on and contact details for the Land and Water Commissioner see:
NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development - Land and Natural Resources
Land and Natural Resources is a division of the Department of Industry. It develops strategy, programs and policy for the management of the Crown land estate, overseas forestry research, policy and regulations, provides specialist commercial services through the Soil Conservation Service and oversees the operation of cemeteries and crematoria.
Planning and Environment – Planning Assessment Commission
The NSW Planning Assessment Commission is a statutory body established under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in November 2008. The Commission is independent of the NSW Government, the Minister for Planning and the Department of Planning and Environment.
Its key functions are advising on planning and development matters, reviewing and determining development consent applications for major developments, including taking submissions from the general public for consideration, and conducting public meetings and hearings.
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 details the functions of the Commission including the determination of Development Applications when those matters are delegated to it by the Minister, and the provision of independent expert advice to the Minister on a range of planning and development matters.
NSW Environment Protection Authority
On July 1 2015, the Environment Protection Authority became the lead regulator for gas activities in NSW under the NSW Gas Plan and is responsible for compliance of both its own licences and the conditions imposed by planning approvals, relevant industry codes of practice, and other licences and approvals (except for work health & safety).
All mining and coal seam gas exploration and production activities in NSW require an Environment Protection Licence which is issued by the Environment Protection Authority.
An Environment Protection Licence contains legally enforceable conditions, which holders must comply with in order to prevent pollution and safeguard the environment. This includes air, water, waste and noise requirements.
The Environment Protection Authority’s legislation and licences also include ‘community right to know’ requirements.
Licence holders are required to notify the Environment Protection Authority if there is an environmental incident or a breach of licence conditions.
The Environment Protection Authority investigates and is able to take compliance action for incidents and breaches.
The Environment Protection Authority also regularly inspects industry sites to assess environmental performance, check compliance with licence conditions and legislative obligations, respond to environmental incidents and undertake detailed compliance audits if needed.
[i] Mining Act 1992 (NSW) s 3A.
[ii] Letter from Mr Michael Bullen, A/Deputy Director General Water, NSW Office of Water to NSW Farmers dated 17 October 2014.
[iii] NSW Government Our Services (NSW Trade and Investment, accessed September 2014).
[iv] Andrew Stoner MP Media Release – New Land & Water Commissioner, End to Royalty Holiday, and Coal Seam Gas Funds to Benefit Local Communities , (23 June 2012).