This page relates to EPA’s policies and tools under the Environment Protection Act 1970. To find out about EPA’s compliance and enforcement role under the Environment Protection Act 2017, which is intended to come into effect on 1 July 2021, visit the compliance and enforcement page.

In some cases, due to the nature of a breach of the law, or history of an offender, a sanction or punishment should be applied.

EPA supports responsive sanctioning to complement its compliance and enforcement activities. Responsive sanctioning uses punishment constructively to improve environmental outcomes. It is particularly relevant to the use of enforceable undertakings and court-imposed alternative penalty orders.

Alternative penalty orders allow the court to require an offender to carry out a specified project to restore or enhance the environment, rather than issue a fine or warning.

The principles governing responsive sanctioning aim to:

  • be responsive and consider what is appropriate for the particular offender to change their behaviour
  • calculate the commercial advantage or economic benefit obtained by an offender through delayed or avoided compliance and eliminate it
  • be proportionate to the nature of the offence and the harm caused
  • make good or reduce the harm caused by a breach, where appropriate
  • act as a specific deterrent to future non-compliance by an offender or company director
  • act as a general deterrent by educating others about the potential consequences of breaking the law.

EPA takes an escalating approach to sanctions, ranging from a warning as the least severe to a prosecution and licence or permit revocation as the most severe.

More information about EPA's sanctions is in the Compliance and enforcement policy (publication 1798).

Read next

Compliance and enforcement under the 1970 Act

Compliance and enforcement policy

Enforceable undertakings

Authorised officer powers 

Remedial notices and directions

Compliance and Enforcement Review



This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 2 January 2018.

Read more about sanctions under the 1970 Act

Reviewed 26 August 2021