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NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service

members of the public, local councils and other government bodies. All alleged breaches detected, or reported, are recorded, assessed and considered for action in accordance with this Policy.

All alleged breaches of natural resources legislation are prioritised for investigation using a risk management approach in line with the Australian Standard. For all alleged breaches recorded, initial desktop assessment and prioritisation (into low, medium and high risk) is conducted. This assessment comprises:

  • a review of the Department's records for applications, approvals, previous compliance investigations and any other documentation relating to the land as well as the people that may be involved. Relevant material such as recent and historic aerial photography, satellite imagery, maps, plans and previous reports may also be examined; and

  • an assessment of the likely environmental harm, impacts on other resource users and the effect on the integrity of a consent and/or the regulatory system;

  • Further investigation may be warranted following the outcome of the desktop assessment and this may involve a site inspection and collecting information from the landholder. Before undertaking a site inspection, wherever possible, officers will contact the landholder to arrange a visit to the property.

  • During an investigation, compliance officers will gather evidence of the incident in order to establish whether an offence has occurred and the identity of the person(s) who may be responsible. This evidence may take the form of videos, photographs, samples and physical evidence, witness statements and records of interview.

If, after full investigation, it is considered that a breach has occurred, DNR will take appropriate action depending on the significance of the breach. In determining the significance DNR will consider:

  • The degree of environmental harm or potential harm resulting from the breach;

  • Issues of the equitable use of natural resources;

  • The severity of the breach;

  • The integrity of the consent and/or the regulatory system, such as;

    • o

      avoiding a poor precedent being set; and

      • o

        an unreasonable or extreme interpretation in relation to a condition of consent.

  • The public interest including for example:

      • o

        if action would be perceived as counter-productive by bringing the law into disrepute (eg where consent for the activity would have been granted if an application had been made, or where a change in the law is imminent which would make the activity permissible);

      • o

        the level of public concern; and

      • o

        the need for either general or specific deterrence.

  • Any aggravating factors, including for example:

      • o

        whether an individual is culpable (eg they are aware or should be aware that they are committing a breach and continue regardless);

      • o

        whether an individual has a history of prior breaches where the Department

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