New laws have been passed in Victoria which have given the EPA powers to stop pollution and protect the state’s environment.
The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 has introduced a criminally enforceable General Environment Duty which requires people conducting activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution to take responsible steps to eliminate or reduce them.
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It aims to move the focus to prevention, rather than responding to pollution after it has occurred.
The Bill substantially increases maximum penalties to better reflect the seriousness of environmental offences.
The reforms have also delivered improved clarity and flexibility, including reforms to EPA licensing and the environmental audit system.
A range of measures have been introduced to assist the EPA’s ability to protect the environment, including strengthening powers of EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.
Community members have also been given the ability to seek civil remedies to enforce the Environment Protection Act and regulations.
The new laws will come into effect on 1 July 2020, which will allow time to develop the regulations and guidance required to support the new laws.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the historic reforms were developed carefully over a number of years and will help Victoria’s environment for generations to come.
“We’re making sure Victoria’s EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment,” she said.