EPA Victoria is using drones to check for illegal dumping

Dumping surveillance takes flight

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – or drones – are being used by EPA Victoria to tackle and deter illegal dumping across the state.

The authority has launched the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Program to record video evidence of illegal dumping and polluting.

Over the last financial year, EPA VIC issued 98 remedial notices to stop or clean up illegally dumped waste across the state, with the most issued in Victoria’s north-west, followed by the Melbourne metro and north east regions.

The UAV program will increase the authority’s ability to detect illegal dumping in remote and difficult to reach locations, as well as providing evidence to prosecute offenders.

“We know that land with minimum visibility tends to be an attractive place for illegal dumping because offenders think no-one’s watching. They shouldn’t be so confident now,” said Executive Director of Regional Services, Damian Wells.

“The use of high performance UAVs, also known as drones, and other technology such as aerial photography are important additions to our compliance and enforcement toolkit. Vision collected through the UAV Program will detect illegal dumping in areas that were previously inaccessible or difficult to reach by EPA officers,” he added.

EPA VIC has gained Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certification to operate the program and must abide by CASA regulations requiring licensees to keep their UAVs more than 15m away from people. UAVs must also be operated within line of sight and cannot be flown over populous areas, making them suitable for use in more remote locations.

The UAV Program builds on the work of EPA VIC’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce, which aims to tackle dumping of industrial waste, such as concrete, timber, bricks and asbestos, on public and private land.

“It’s estimated more than 350,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste is illegally dumped in Victoria every year, posing risks to our environment, health and economy,” Mr Wells said. “Local councils alone spend tens of millions of dollars each year cleaning up illegally dumped waste.”

Further information about EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce Program is available at www.epa.vic.gov.au/strikeforce.