The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was created in 1986 to co-ordinate and carry out pollution prevention and control activities. Between 1986 and 31 March 2005, the EPD functioned mainly as an executive department enforcing environmental laws and implementing environmental policies, the latter having been determined by the relevant policy bureau. To enable the EPD to play a more efficient role and concentrate on the environmental protection work, the Environment Branch of the then Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, which was responsible for environmental policy making, merged with the EPD on 1 April 2005. The head of the Environment Branch took up the dual role of Permanent Secretary for the Environment and Director of Environmental Protection. This development has placed the EPD in the position of both determining and implementing environmental policies. Subsequent to the re-organisation of government bureaux on 1 July 2007, a new Environment Bureau was formed overseeing the formulation and implementation of policies on environmental protection, conservation, energy and sustainable development, etc. The Permanent Secretary for the Environment under the Secretary for the Environment is also the Director of Environmental Protection.
Currently, the EPD adopts an organisational structure based on three operational divisions, six policy divisions, a cross-boundary division, and a corporate affairs division. These divisions are:
As at 31 December 2015, the department had an establishment of 1839 staff. Of this, 30.23% are professionals, 44.32% are technical grade staff and the remaining 25.45% are administrative and other support staff. The changes in size of the establishment in the department over the years are shown in the figure below:
Merger of the Environment Branch and the Environmental Protection Department (23 Sept 2004)
Government Secretariat : Environment, Transport and Works Bureau (Environment Branch) and Environmental Protection Department [EC(2004-05)10] (17 Nov 2004)
Re-organisation of Policy Bureaux of the Government Secretariat : Changes in Civil Service Organisation Structure (11 May 2007)