Environmental Information for Owners of Industrial Premises

This information is designed to assist businesses when looking for appropriate premises and during the initial set-up of the business.

Suitability of premises

The first thing you need to consider when selecting a premises is whether it is suitable for the activity you intend to carry out. In terms of protecting the environment you should look at things such as:

  • proximity to watercourses if you are dealing with large quantities of liquids
  • likely impacts on neighbouring premises
  • size of premises, and
  • whether on-site materials can be safely stored, handled and transported

It may be advisable to contact your Appropriate Regulatory Authority to satisfy any specific requirements that they may have. 

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997, delineates responsibility for the regulation of premises and activities in regard to the environment. In the vast majority of cases Council or the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will be the ARA.

Do I need a licence?

If you are unsure whether the premises and/or activity is scheduled or requires a licence, contact either the Environment Protection Authority or Council and they will advise you on this matter. 

Design of new premises

It is important that you consider environmental responsibilities from the initial design and application stage and get it right the first time. This will not only save you money in the long term but it will also help to protect the environment from the beginning of operations.

Some of the things you should consider are:

Air - When setting up a business, you are required to assess any likely sources of air pollution that may be generated and to take steps to mitigate potential pollutants. Depending on the type of on-site operations, this may include the installation of filtration and/or extraction systems or the use of equipment and processes that will reduce source pollutants. Any such equipment needs to be regularly maintained to ensure it is operating efficiently.

Noise - The initial step should be to estimate the likely level of noise generation from the premises. If necessary a sound barrier and/or vibration damping materials should be fitted to reduce acoustics. Not only will this reduce the impact of your operations on neighbours but it will also improve the internal working environment.

Soil - Disposal or accidental spillage of oils, radiator coolant, paints, solvents and other chemicals into the ground can cause site contamination which is illegal and may require costly site remediation. These materials are to be adequately stored, then collected and recycled or disposed of by a licensed contractor. 

Stormwater - You should find out where the stormwater drains are, in relation to your premises and note which drains are likely to be affected in the event of a spill, so that you can respond quickly if such an incident occurs.

Activities such as wet-rubbing, engine degreasing or washing of vehicles should be done within a wash bay connected to the sewer. If you need to put in such facilities you should contact both the ARA and Sydney Water for a permit to discharge to the sewer.

Liquid Storage - All areas which contain liquids should be bunded to contain any spillages or leaks. The bund for any area should be able to contain 110% of the volume of the largest sized tank or if the material is contained in smaller drums or containers, at least 25% of the total volume - whichever is greater.

Effective bunding of these areas can take many forms including: building a sealed containment area; placing speed humps across all points of exit to the premises; or grading the area to a pit with a blind sump. The practicality and cost of each of these containment methods for your particular activity will generally determine the type of bunding used. It is important to note that some hazardous materials may have specific storage requirements.

If you have liquids onsite, you also need to ensure that you have access to spill control equipment capable of containing any potential spills. 


You should consider the wastes likely to be generated and look at ways to Reduce, Reuse or Recycle this waste. Your ARA may be able to assist you with this. You should ensure that waste is contained - this includes keeping bin lids closed, and that wastes containing oils or other liquids are stored such that contamination of the site does not occur.

A Note on Hazardous Materials

Storage of hazardous materials may require a Dangerous Goods licence from WorkCover, depending on type and quantity. Material Safety Data Sheets (M.S.D.S.) for these substances are to be stored on-site.

Before beginning operations check that you have:

  1. Determined if a Development Application (DA) is required for the activity you are intending to carry out onsite.
  2. Made yourself aware of any environmental legislation which may affect your business.
  3. Ensured that all liquid wastes are prevented from entering stormwater drains and hence causing pollution of local waterways.
  4. Stored all chemicals and liquids in a covered, bunded area.
  5. Assessed the likely impact of noise upon your neighbours and if necessary have taken steps to minimise the noise.
  6. Considered the potential of your business to cause air pollution and implemented the correct controls to mitigate this pollution.
  7. Made sure that all wastes are adequately contained and where possible minimised or recycled.
  8. Made all staff aware of their environmental responsibilities and of the correct response to a pollution incident.

If you need assistance in any of the areas or are unsure how this would impact upon your business please contact The Hills Shire Council Health and Environment Protection Team on +61 2 9843 0555.

You can also contact the Environment Protection Authority Information Line on 131 555