The Victorian Government has released draft regulations for its new OHS-style environment protection laws and is calling for public comment until 31 October.
The new regulations and standards, which will apply from July 2020, are part of the modernisation of Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) through the newly passed Environment Protection Act.
The Act is modelled on occupational health and safety legislation and switches the focus from managing the consequences of pollution to prevention and reducing the risk of harm (see related article).
Under the new laws, the maximum fine for a general pollution offence will quadruple to $1.6 million and could see polluters face jail time. It would also allow Victorians to go to the courts to force companies to comply with state environmental laws.
EPA Executive Director Tim Eaton said the new Act and regulations would give the EPA more power to prevent pollution and hold polluters to account.
“Where the new Act lays out the increased powers and responsibilities, the regulations and standards fill in the details and create certainty for duty holders to meet their obligations.”
“The draft regulations set out obligations in relation to environment protection, pollution incidents, contaminated land and waste. They also offer duty holders a sense of certainty as they set out to meet their obligations to reduce the risk of harm to public health and the environment.”
The new EP Act also allows the EPA to require duty holders to be licensed, permitted or registered – the regulations then provide the detail of what activities will require a licence, permit or registration.
The public comment period for the regulations and standards is now open until the end of October. Feedback can be anything from a detailed technical submission to a simple suggestion from a member of the public.
“We want to hear from community groups, industry, small business operators, anyone with an existing EPA licence, environmental lobby groups, or any other member of the public or industry with an interest in the environment protection laws,” Mr Eaton said.
View the proposed regulations and have your say here.