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Have your say - modernising the EPA's legislative and regulatory system

September 30, 2019

The Victorian Government is modernising the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of Victoria, including its existing legislative and regulatory framework. These reforms are being implemented through two legislative packages; the Environment Protection Act 2017 and the Environmental Protection Amendment Act 2018. The Environment Protection Act 2017 has already commenced, and the more significant changes contained in the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will take effect from July 1 2020.

An important addition of the new Act is the general environmental duty (GED). The GED states that any person engaging in an activity that can cause harm to public health or the environment, from pollution or waste, must minimize those risks. Additional key features, amongst a range of others, of the new legislative framework include the introduction of duty to notify the EPA of pollution incidents and contaminated sites, the duty to remediate harm, a greater response to unreasonable and aggravated noise and new requirements for the disposal of industrial waste.

The model which is being adopted by the EPA is similar to the existing Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Laws. This model is designed so that to facilitate a more educational based approach to the community when enforcing regulatory requirements. Under the new framework, all seven regulations which currently exist to service the EPA will be revoked. The EPA have indicated that the intent of the regulatory review will result in the consolidation of redrafting the seven existing regulations into one document to enable the legislation.

The process for enabling new regulations is through a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). A RIS provides an estimate to the impact of any new proposed legislation, specifically in terms of costs and benefits against hypothetical scenarios were no regulations are introduced. The RIS is considered to facilitate the most effective evidence-based approach, to assist Government in determining the most effective regulatory outcomes.

The EPA is currently seeking public comment on the subordinate legislation, which includes the following regulatory tools which support the new Act:

  • Environment Protection Regulations
  • Environment Reference Standards
  • Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)
  • Impact assessment

For further information on the proposed regulations, please click here. Public comment closes on 31 October 2019, to which HIA will be lodging a formal submission in response to the proposed subordinate legislation.

If you wish to discuss this matter further or would like to provide feedback for HIA to consider as part of our submission, please contact Teresa Davis – Planning Adviser.