Information on this page is not current law. It details new laws that commence on 1 July 2021 under the amended Environment Protection Act 2017.

If your activity is responsible for a pollution incident, you must restore affected areas back to their original state. This is the duty to take action to respond to harm caused by pollution incidents. You will find this under section 31 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act). 

You will generally be responsible for paying for the cleanup of pollution. You must also restore an area to its original state, so far as is reasonably practicable. This duty applies whether you have breached the general environmental duty or not.

The principle of polluter pays

The duty to respond links to the principle of polluter pays. This principle is one of the 11 principles of the Act. So, if you’re the person responsible for generating the pollution, you need to take appropriate action. 

EPA action if I disobey this duty

We may issue a remedial notice requiring you to take steps to comply with the duty. Criminal enforcement may apply if you fail to comply with a notice.

If something has gone wrong and there’s a pollution incident you must notify us.

Reviewed 4 March 2020