The Victorian Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) program has received a further $3.4 million in state government funding.
The expanded funding will enable the recruitment of 4-6 extra OPLEs for 4-10 partner councils.
The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.
EPA has opened an expression of interest period and is encouraging all local councils to apply.
OPLEs are authorised officers who have powers under the Environment Protection Act to issue pollution abatement and clean up notices.
EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said in their first 14 months, OPLEs completed 857 inspections of 605 sites and served 81 notices.
“Local community issues, such as water pollution and management, noise and illegal dumping and odour were common areas the officers dealt with,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“The new OPLEs and council areas will also help EPA combat illegal industrial and chemical waste stockpiling.”
Dr Wilkinson said current participating councils had reported improved response times to pollution reports and increased collaboration, information sharing and expertise since the OPLEs began work in February 2018.
“OPLEs respond to issues relating to noise, dust and odour and waste management issues arising from small to medium size businesses,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“OPLEs also provide local industry, business and community members with the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent, identify and resolve environmental issues.”
All Victorian councils are eligible to apply and must submit applications by 10 July.