Since 2008 the Hunter JO has worked with member councils on numerous environmental compliance initiatives – all designed to assist with improving standards, systems and practices relating to compliance with and enforcement of environmental legislation.
Through these Environmental Compliance programs, the Hunter JO has:
- Built the commitment, capacity, skills and resources of Council staff to effectively and consistently prioritise and enforce environmental legislation and standards
- Provided councils with a suite of best practice tools and supporting resources to effectively implement environmental regulation and enforcement activities
- Delivered coordinated regional community education and enforcement campaigns targeting regional environmental compliance priorities
- Facilitated the establishment of partnerships and resource sharing between councils and other organisations, to support the ongoing implementation of collaborative enforcement and compliance campaigns
- Improved the nature and consistency of data collection across the region to allow the identification of regional trends and priorities.
The Local Government Compliance and Enforcement: Regulation Review 2013 undertaken by IPART acknowledged the value of the Hunter JO Environmental Compliance programs and encouraged their adoption more broadly across NSW as industry best practice. The range of tools produced are summarised below and can also be found in our Resource Library.
COMPLIANCE ASSURANCE POLICY AND GUIDELINES
Includes a model Compliance Assurance Policy and associated guidelines to support implementation of the Policy. The Model Policy provides support to councils to conduct both proactive and reactive compliance activities and clearly indicates that proactive strategies may assist with reducing the incidents of non compliance and environmental harm. Guidelines are provided to assist with:
- Compliance Inspections and Monitoring
- Developing Quality Conditions of Consent
- Promoting Voluntary Compliance
- Managing Reports of Non-Compliance
- Evidence Gathering
- Recorded Interviewing
- Use of Surveillance Cameras
- Enforcement Options
Further details on the policy and guidelines are included in the Resource Library.
PRACTICAL COMPLIANCE SYSTEMS REVIEW
HCCREMS, with the assistance of the City of Newcastle and AECOM developed a Practical System Review (self assessment) which assists councils to review the performance of their compliance management systems and identify if there are any modifications to systems or practices that may enhance current systems. The Practical System Review provides the following benefits to Councils:
- An opportunity for discussion and reflection on organisational processes
- A standard methodology for identifying strengths and weaknesses in current compliance systems and practices
- A structured methodology for tracking (and potentially reporting on) progress over time
- An ability to prioritise corrective actions and improvements to systems to ensure they deliver the desired compliance outcomes
- Building staff knowledge and skills in relation to best practice.
IPART identified the Systems review tool as best practice Saying:
The self-assessment tool developed by HCCREMS (within the Hunter ROC) represents leading practice amongst councils. The Hunter self-assessment tool includes a set of questions that councils can use to assess their own regulatory capacity. The tool can be used on a number of levels, including:
- at a basic level – to ensure a council has a records system in place, or
- at higher level – to assess how good a council’s records system is.
A copy of the self-assessment tool is located in our Resource Library.
FUNDING ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE
This report looks at the various options available to councils in New South Wales to raise funds for environmental compliance and protection programs. Options include:
- Fees for compliance services
- Levies, including environmental levies
- Fines from criminal prosecutions for regulatory breaches
- Administrative orders for environmental protection
- Security (bonds) for issues such as impacts on council property (e.g. trees) or other environmental impacts (e.g. salinity and drainage)
- Voluntary Planning Agreements
- Contributions to public infrastructure or services
- Biodiversity certification of planning instruments
- Public Positive Covenants Grants
To access this resource please visit our Resource Library.
COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
Campaign materials were developed to assist Councils to engage with their communities over illegal earthworks and illegal filling.
Documentation is available from our Resource Library.