Bick & Steele: Expert advisers on regulatory enforcement & prosecutions


The regulatory authorities overseeing the carrying out of development in NSW have strong regulatory and enforcement powers. Some examples are set out below.

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

Consent authorities have broad powers under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) to investigate whether development is being carried out in accordance with the conditions of a development consent (where required).

Where a breach is identified, consent authorities may issue an order requiring the breach to be rectified (known as a development control order) or can commence prosecution proceedings against the person responsible. 

In recent years, the Department of Planning and Environment has significantly intensified its compliance effort in relation to State Significant Development. The outcomes of its regular compliance audits are published on its website.

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) contains a range of environment protection offences. These include pollution offences (such as water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution and land pollution) as well as various waste offences.

Penalties under the POEO Act are significant. Tier 1 offences have a maximum penalty of up to $5,000,000 for corporations. 

The POEO Act also imposes a duty on certain persons to notify pollution incidents causing or threatening material harm to relevant authorities including the EPA. The failure to notify is a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of $2,000,000 in the case of a corporation. 

How we can help

Based in Sydney, we assist clients across NSW to resolve complex regulatory matters. At Bick & Steele, we can help you by:

  • advising you in relation to compliance issues;

  • advising you in relation to any regulatory orders that may be issued including a development control order, a clean-up notice, a prevention notice and a prohibition notice;

  • advising about environmental incident response (including notification obligations);

  • advising you on your rights and responsibilities in the event of:

    • a non-compliance with an approval or licence;

    • the commission of an environment or planning offence; or

    • an environmental incident;

  • assisting with any regulatory investigation including:

    • responding to 'show cause' letters;

    • responding to statutory notices such as notices to produce information and records or to attend an interview; and

    • preparing for and attending regulatory interviews;

  • defending prosecutions; and

  • providing training to managers and employees regarding compliance issues and responding to environmental incidents.

Our experience

Examples of projects with respect to which our Directors have demonstrated their experience advising on these matters can be found here.

Contact us

To see how we can help you, please contact us.