On-the-spot fines of up to $15,000 for polluters in NSW are the toughest in the nation to fight environmental crime, says the state government.
A 10-fold increase in penalties is now if effect across the state.
An on-the-spot penalty of up to $15,000 can now be issued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for the 10 most serious environmental offences, NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes announced on Tuesday.
Offences include pollution of water, illegal disposal of asbestos or hazardous waste, and operating without a licence, he said in a statement.
On-the-spot fines for the 10 most serious offences will increase from $1500 to $15,000 for corporations, and $750 to $7500 for individuals.
Offenders may also be sentenced to up to seven years in jail or be fined up to $5 million, Mr Stokes said.
The tough new penalties should help change poor behaviour, he said.
"These changes better reflect the community's expectations and shift the power back in favour of the independent regulator rather than the polluter," Mr Stokes said.
CEO and chair of the EPA Barry Buffier has welcomed the new penalties, which will give the EPA greater regulatory powers to tackle environmental crime.
"The community has made it clear that they believe the penalties being issued to companies after an environmental incident are too low," Mr Buffier said.