Victoria Releases Draft Environmental Protection Regulations for Consultation

Tuesday 17 September 2019 @ 10.51 a.m. | Legal Research

On 2 September 2019, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (“the EPA”) and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning released the draft Environment Protection Regulations (VIC) (“the Draft EP Regulations”) and draft Environment Protection Transitional Regulations (VIC) (“the Draft EP Transitional Regulations”) for public consultation.

These regulations are intended to support the operation of the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (VIC) (“the Amending Act”), which is still yet to commence. The Amending Act is the second half of the Victorian Government’s 2017 response to the Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (“the Inquiry”). The first half of the response was the Environment Protection Act 2017 (VIC) (“the 2017 Act”), which established a new governance structure for the EPA. The 2017 Act additionally recognised a new objective for the EPA to protect human health and the environment by reducing the effects of pollution and waste. The Inquiry and the bill preceding the 2017 Act was discussed in a previous Timebase article.

The Amending Act

The Amending Act introduces a number of changes to the 2017 Act, including a new prevention-focused regulatory scheme. A key part of these changes is the introduction of the general environmental duty (“the GED”). The GED states that an individual who engages in activities that may give rise to risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution or waste must minimise these risks, so far as reasonably practicable. Breach of this duty will be an offence under the amendments.

The Amending Act also makes additional changes in regards to:

  • Permissions to be granted by the EPA
  • Sanctions to be issued by the EPA
  • Waste management regulation, especially in regards to industrial waste
  • The landfill levy for hazardous wastes
  • The duty to manage contaminated land and the obligations that a person in control has in regards to these sites
  • The environmental audit process
  • The EPA’s investigative and inquiry powers

The Draft Regulations

The Draft EP Regulations aim to support the Amending Act by providing additional clarity on how stakeholders affected by the GED should meet their obligations. The Draft EP Regulations define and prescribe key terms such as contaminated land, dangerous litter, and industrial waste. The Draft EP Regulations also cover administrative matters regarding EPA authorisations including criteria to be considered, exemptions and offences.

Overall, the Draft EP Regulations cover:

  • Definitions, reporting requirements and exemptions in regards to contaminated land
  • Licenses, permits and registration issued by EPAs and councils, including information to be included and when they are to be applied for
  • Details on environmental protection and waste levies, including when they are to be paid and how they are calculated
  • Waste, specifically in regards to classification, transportation, tracking, disposal and recycling
  • Additional environmental management concerns, including prohibited chemical substances, air concerns, noise pollution, water management
  • Environmental audits and financial assurance requirements
  • Enforcement of fees, penalties and offences

The Draft EP Transitional Regulations provide additional provisions to ensure that old EPA authorisations, determinations and classifications made under the Environmental Protection Act 1970 (VIC) (“the 1970 Act”) will continue to have effect under the new legislative framework, following the repeal of the 1970 Act under section 63 of the Amending Act.

Consultation Process

Consultation on the Draft Regulations is currently open. Further details on submissions and the progress of the consultation can be found on the State Government of Victoria website.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

[Draft] Environment Protection Regulations (VIC) and regulatory impact statement available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

[Draft] Environment Protection Transitional Regulations (VIC) and regulatory impact statement available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (VIC) available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

Media release: Proposed regulations and environment reference standards (The State of Government of Victoria, 2 September 2019)

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