People want EPA back on their side, survey says
The New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority has to move away from industry-favouring and do more regulating if it is to gain more public trust, a recent survey found.
The study undertaken by the EPA into the public’s perceptions of it found around twenty-five per cent of respondents think the Authority works too closely with industrial interests to be truly effective.
A spokesperson from the Hunter Community Environment Centre welcomed the publication of the result, saying the release alone was a positive step.
“We'd like to see the EPA win back public trust,” the Centre’s Dr James Whelan said.
“The EPA is our regulator - it is our agency, the people of NSW's agency, to protect the environment.
“They need to get to a point where we will trust them and know that their regulating effectively.
“They need to work hard to regain that trust,” Dr Whelan said.
Attempts by the EPA to bury community concerns over a contentious Australian Rail Track Corporation dust report showed that it leans in the wrong direction, Dr Whelan says.
“It's time for the EPA to beef up its regulatory response.
“Many in the Hunter would say that the EPA has been captured by industry and that they are effectively a dog being wagged by its tail, and this study shows that very clearly.
“It's time for the EPA to show through leadership and one good place to start would be requiring coal wagons to be covered,” he said.
The EPA says it will consider eight recommendations and 28 sub-recommendations which have come out of the survey.
EPA CEO Barry Buffier says for the most part the survey found the public believes the organisation is professional, trustworthy and independent. Buffer also admits the body could do more to communicate what it is doing and who it is talking to.
A follow-up survey will be conducted in 2015.