Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria has welcomed the Victorian Government’s budget announcement of $9.1 million over four years to continue the work of its Illegal Dumping Strikeforce.
The budget also included $19.9 million in what the Victorian Government said in its budget papers will strengthen the EPA and ensure it’s working to help protect the state’s environment.
In other environmental areas, the budget contained $1.2 million for an air quality strategy, and other funds for Parks Victoria and climate change. The budget papers state that $14.5 million will be provided for funding to councils and the recycling industry to ensure the continuing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste, which appears to be a continuation of the funds announced in February.
EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan said the $9.1 million investment would enable EPA to continue tackling illegal waste disposal through targeted investigations, compliance activities, intelligence gathering and public information campaigns.
“Illegal dumping has significant impacts on human health and the environment, and costs Victorians around $30 million a year in clean up costs and lost landfill levy revenue,” Mr Finegan said.
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“The continued program will allow us to build on the knowledge and expertise gathered so far, increase our focus on prevention, and disrupt the business of illegitimate dumping through behaviour change and public information.”
The strikeforce program has been targeting the illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste, skip bin loads and waste tyres.
“Illegal dumping creates an eyesore and can contaminate the soil and nearby waterways, and the cost of the clean up is too often left to the community or landholders,” Mr Finegan said.
“Two thirds of EPA’s prosecutions every year are for illegal waste dumping, and over the last two financial years, EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce has inspected hundreds of sites for illegal dumping and issued more than 170 clean up notices.”
EPA’s clean up notices are legally enforceable orders to remove dumped waste for proper disposal, and EPA fines start in the thousands of dollars and can go as high as hundreds of thousands if the case goes to court.