Legislation and Policies

Environment Protection Act 1997

There is legislation in the ACT that protects the environment from pollution and its effects.  This legislation is the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act).  The Act provides the regulatory framework to help reduce and eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the air, land and water.

The Act establishes the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) as the statutory decision maker for environmental regulation and policy.  The EPA administers legislation covering air and water quality, waste, contaminated land, noise, pesticides and hazardous waste.

Environment Protection Policies

Environment Protection Policies help to explain and apply the Environment Protection Act 1997 and the Environment Protection Regulation 2005. The following policies provide information relating to particular areas of environment protection.

Water Resources Act 2007

The Water Resources Act 2007 controls how we can use water directly from water bodies including surface water and ground water in the ACT.  All water use from Territory water bodies including streams, dams or groundwater is controlled by the Act.  This includes the allocation of water and the licensing of use; licensing of drillers; and licenses for the construction of bores and waterway works (including farm dams and weirs).

While the Water Resources Act applies to water that ACTEW takes from rivers and streams, it does not apply to the use of water by ACTEW's mains supply customers, water collected in rainwater tanks, or the on-site use of wastewater. 

National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs)

The National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) comprises one minister from each participating jurisdiction (the Commonwealth, States and Territories). Complementary legislation in each jurisdiction establishes NEPC and gives it the power to make National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs).

NEPMs are designed to provide equivalent protection from pollution to all Australians and to ensure that decisions by businesses are not distorted and markets are not fragmented by variations in environmental standards between jurisdictions. The decision to develop a NEPM is advertised nationally and members of the public are invited to register an interest in the NEPM. Draft NEPMs are released for public comment before being finalised for consideration by NEPC. If approved by NEPC, the NEPM is tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament and, if passed, it becomes law in participating jurisdictions.

The ACT Environment Protection Authority implements the following NEPMs:

Air Quality Monitoring

The ACT Government monitors air quality in order to ensure that the health and wellbeing of Canberrans is maintained. Monitoring provides information on the concentration of pollutants in the air.

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