The environmental responsibilities of local councils are set out in the Local Government Act 1999 (SA), as well as other legislation dealing with public and environmental health, development, dogs and cats, drainage and so on.

Since local councils are created by State legislation, it is possible for the State government to vary the responsibilities of councils. Often there is a tension between the two levels of government, with local councils reluctant to take on new responsibilities without increased resources from State grants or property rates.

Generally, issues relating to local amenity or local nuisances are local government responsibilities; however many local pollution problems remain the responsibility of the Environment Protection Authority (‘EPA’). Local councils are responsible for “unsanitary conditions”, “unsightly conditions of land”, barking dogs, backyard chooks, rubbish collection and most local development approvals.