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Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018
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Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 Passed by Victorian Parliament

05 September 2018

The anticipated Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 passed through the Victorian Parliament on 22 August 2018, introducing a new approach to addressing environmental issues. This change evolves the long-standing method of ‘managing’ the impacts of waste and pollution after it has occurred into a ‘prevention-focused’ model of care.

Leading the revolution in environmental protection, the change modernises requirements for waste control, where higher accountability and greater consequences for failure to comply will be applied to businesses, industries and the community.

The obligation for businesses and industries to reform waste management practices implies the implementation of various regulations, policies, codes and guidelines in order to comply with legislation. The aim to increase the protection of people and the environment from harm aligns the approach more consistently with existing WorkSafe legislation.

The Act is intended to come into full effect in 2020, however some sections will commence earlier such as the immediate requirements under Section 19, which requires all actions taken to be evidence-based.

 

More detail on the changes are available from the Victorian Government website.

 

The legislation change is intended to enhance the protection of Victoria’s environment and public health, through a risk-based framework that includes:

 

General Environmental Duty Intended to focus on preventing harm, Victorian businesses, industries and community members will be required to undertake reasonably practicable steps to eliminate, or if elimination is not reasonably practicable, reasonably practicable steps to minimise, risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste.
Permissions The legislation introduces a new three-tiered permissions framework (Registrations, Permits and Licences) allowing proportionate controls to be applied based on the nature of the risks.
Waste Management and Duties The legislation introduces a new framework to reduce hazards from waste, while supporting waste material reuse, recovery and resource efficiency.
Contaminated Environments Greater empowerment for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and persons in management or control of a site to take action proportionate to the risks posed by contaminated land. This will reduce costs to consumers, businesses and government establishing expectations of duty to manage and notify authorities of contaminated land.
Environmental Audits A more flexible assessment process than the previous one-size-fits-all solution. This will consist of a preliminary risk screen (PRS) and a scaled audit.
Environmental Plans The legislation includes ‘Better Environment Plans’ to enable EPA to recognise innovative approaches to environmental protection. EPA’s endorsement of plans will be an important recognition of and support to that positive action by the partners.
Access to Environmental Information The legislation introduces requirements to make environmental information more transparent and accessible to the public.
Investigation, Enforcement and Compliance Modernised and strengthened ability for the EPA’s compliance and enforcement powers.
Penalties and Sanctions Increased penalties for environmental offences from those previously in place, bringing these penalties into line with comparable legislation in other environmental schemes.
Community Rights For the first time in Victoria, community members affected by alleged breaches of the new environment protection laws will be able to seek direct action through a court. The Act includes a new ‘community right’, which will allow courts to enforce the new laws without EPA’s involvement.

 

 

Greencap recognises that keeping up to date with regulatory changes can be challenging. With a team of environmental experts, Greencap are able to provide tailored services for your business to assess and implement appropriate and cost effective solutions to meeting the requirements. We have extensive experience in liaising, preparing and delivering assessments for our clients required for Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approval. Greencap can also assist with briefing your Management or Board on the relevant requirements tailored for your industry.

Please contact Greencap if you have any questions about the commencement and implementation of the Act, or you would like a briefing for your Management or Board on the relevant requirements tailored for your industry.

Jean Meaklim – Principal Consultant, Environment
jean.meaklim@greencap.com.au