Monitoring and enforcement

Both governments and proponents have responsibility for monitoring the impacts of activities on native plants and animals. You can also monitor the impacts of activities on the environment, such as water and air quality.

Before reporting suspected breaches of environmental laws you will require evidence. It is also important to remember that the law contains certain exceptions and defences to offences. The most common defence is that a person has a permit or licence to take the action which would otherwise be an offence, such as a licence to extract water. If you are unsure whether an action is an offence or not, contact the EDO NSW Environmental Law Line.

You should report any suspected breaches of the offences that are set out below to the Australian Environment Department for offences relating to national laws, or the NSW DPI - Water.

National and State enforcement authorities can issue stop work notices in many cases where unauthorised activities are occurring that threaten harm to protected species or areas.

  • Report breaches of water management legislation to the NSW DPI - Water. Breaches include:
    • Water theft.
    • Harming a water source.
  • Report a suspected breach of a water licence to the NSW DPI - Water. Examples of breaches include:
    • Taking water from a water source without a licence.
    • Carrying out works on a water source without a licence.
    • Failing to comply with the conditions of a water access licence.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a Ramsar wetland.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a nationally listed migratory species.
    • Taking an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a place that is listed on the World, Commonwealth, or National heritage lists.
    • Taking an action that will have a significant impact on a nationally listed migratory species.
  • Report harm of a State protected species to the Environment Line on 131 555. Examples of illegal activity include:
  • Report pollution incidents to the Environment Line on 131 555. If you are concerned about water pollution, you should also contact the individual or company to request an explanation and ask them to fix the problem.

Under certain environmental laws, any person has the right to bring proceedings in a Court to remedy or restrain a breach. In NSW, this is mainly to the Land and Environment Court. For breaches of national environmental law, it is the Federal Court. See How can I have my say? for more information. You should contact the EDO NSW Environmental Law Line to request some initial legal advice if you would like to take this step.