General guidance

Guidance is information published by EPA that helps duty holders to:  

  • understand their obligations  
  • identify risks from their activities  
  • take steps to minimise risk to human health and the environment, fulfilling their duties under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act).  

Guidance can incorporate or reference documents produced by reputable standard setting bodies. Guidance can give general advice, or specific suggestions on how to comply with a duty.  

Some guidance might cover technologies or practices to manage risk. Other guidance might outline processes for a duty holder to follow so they can make the right compliance decisions.  

Compliance codes

Compliance codes provide practical guidance on how to meet duties under the Act or subordinate legislation. The compliance codes can also help you comply with the general environmental duty (GED).  

Compliance codes can also include:  

  • information for managing a risk  
  • acceptable standards of practice that are ‘reasonably practicable’.  

Compliance codes are a legal tool, usually developed with industry. Compliance codes describe actions to take, to be compliant under certain circumstances. However, they are not mandatory, and you might have different ways of showing compliance. Your standard of risk control must be equal to or better than the code, in order to be compliant.  

Prescription in Regulations

Regulations set compliance requirements by setting minimum standards of conduct, for specific activities or risks of harm. For example, Regulations can specify noise labelling requirements for motorcycles manufactured after a certain date.  

EPA position statements

A position statement outlines how we exercise our discretion in applying the law. They can also cover our interpretation of how the law applies to different groups, or in specific circumstances.  

Position statements publicise EPA’s opinion of the law. This provides transparency, consistency and certainty for duty holders, the community and other stakeholders. While position statements are a statutory instrument, they aren’t legally binding.  

EPA can prepare interim or provisional position statements to provide non-statutory guidance. This occurs where our position is either:  

  • still developing (such as evolving knowledge of the risk)  
  • transitional in nature (only in place for a defined period).  

Economic instruments

The Act provides for the creation of economic instruments. Examples include tradeable permit schemes and environmental offsets.  

Economic instruments can define how a person following the instrument is complying with, or exempt from a regulatory requirement. No economic instruments are in effect at commencement of the Act.  

Issues of environmental concern

The Act allows the Minister to declare an issue of environmental concern (IEC). The main purpose of an IEC is to raise the profile of an identified or emerging environmental challenge.  

When the Minister declares an issue is of environmental concern, it demonstrates to industry that:  

  • the Minister is seeking voluntary action  
  • in the absence of credible voluntary action, steps are taken towards regulatory intervention.  

The Minister may also invite relevant parties to consider participating in a better environment plan (BEP).  

Any IEC declarations must set out what actions the government will take if there’s no action on an IEC. We may refer to declarations to issue remedial notices, or introduce tools to help with IEC compliance. In these cases, we will consider any better environment plans.  

Read more

Reasonably practicable  

State of knowledge and industry  

Learn how to manage your environmental risk

Learn how to comply with the GED 

Reviewed 9 November 2021