Compliance & enforcement
As South Australia’s leading environmental regulator, the EPA employs best practice regulatory principles and tools and robust processes to:
- support and enable the willing to comply or go beyond compliance
- tackle the important environmental issues with a proportionate, risk and evidence-based approach
- withstand challenge
- take decisive, timely and strong enforcement action when needed.
Much of this is achieved by providing advice and guidance, partnering with other organisations, education and regulation. However, in some circumstances, we will use our enforcement powers.
Our aim is that the balanced and principled use of compliance and enforcement tools will ensure that our actions are consistent, fair and effective, and will provide assurance to the community that the EPA is working to fulfil its role of protecting the environment.
Our compliance and enforcement work is set out in our annual compliance plan and associated reporting.
Annual compliance plans
The EPA’s Compliance Plan sets out our planned core regulatory work and targeted compliance interventions for each year. Outlining the planned activity in this way provides transparency to industry and the community about our key focus areas for the coming year. It also allows businesses an opportunity to review and where necessary correct their practices, prior to any intervention by us. This plan provides transparency to the broader community on where we intend to focus efforts.
Our regulatory approach
The EPA’s regulatory approach is based on the foundation of firm and fair compliance and enforcement. We are guided by the following core principles:
We will ensure that any measure taken is proportional to the risks posed to the environment and the seriousness of the offence. As far as the law allows, the EPA will take into account the circumstances of each case when considering the action we will take.
We will be fair, equitable and apply consistent processes in all cases. We will ensure all officers are trained, and there are effective systems and operational policies in place to support them.
We will openly share information about our decisions and actions. We will assist the regulated community to understand what is required of them and what they should expect from the EPA. We will make available information on the public register as required by the law.
We will ensure our regulatory effort is directed primarily towards those activities that pose the greatest risks, cause the greatest environmental damage or undermine the regulatory regime.
We will work in a timely manner to manage, inform and progress without delay.
When taking enforcement action:
- The EPA will not ignore any negligent or criminal act which threatens or damages the environment or which undermines the regulatory regime.
- The EPA will have regard to and seek to further the objects of the Environment Protection Act 1993, including taking into account social, environmental and economic factors when making regulatory decisions.
- Environmental legislation provides the EPA with a variety of regulatory tools and the ability to exercise discretion to determine which tool is appropriate for particular circumstances. The suite of enforcement tools includes criminal prosecution, and administrative and civil proceedings. The various tools may be used in conjunction with one another where necessary. The Compliance and enforcement: Regulatory options and tools (1.7 MB PDF) provides detailed information about the tools the EPA may use to manage non-compliance and the circumstances under which the tools may be applied.
- In determining an appropriate course of action, the EPA will consider a variety of factors including, but not limited to the:
- seriousness of the contravention, for example the nature and extent of the impact, harm or potential harm to the environment or the potential to undermine the regulatory regime
- extent and speed of remediation action required
- compliance history.
There may be circumstances where you are concerned about or dispute an EPA compliance and enforcement decision, action or order. In such cases you should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with the EPA officer involved or their supervisor.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome you may lodge a formal complaint in writing (email or post) addressed to the Chief Executive Officer.
Other avenues of appeal are available via the Environment Resources and Development Court or the State Ombudsman. Appeals through the Environment Resources and Development Court usually have associated timeframes within which the appeal must be lodged. The format of the appeal is set by the Court.
More information can be obtained from the brochure.
The EPA is committed to pursuing better regulatory practice. Check out the reports on our progress: