VIC EPA seeks new chairperson

The Victorian EPA is seeking a new chairperson after Cheryl Batagol announced she would not pursue a term extension in June.

Environment Minister Lily D’ambrosio is now seeking expression of interest for chairperson and EPA Governing Board appointments.

These appointments are expected to commence from 1 July 2020 for a term not exceeding five years, as determined by the minister.

Ms Batagol said it had been a pleasure and privilege to serve as EPA chairperson for more than 10 years.

“I have been privileged to lead the board through a significant period of transition, and I have every confidence EPA is well positioned to deliver on the Victorian Government’s response to the EPA Inquiry and continue on a path of continuous improvement,” Ms Batagol said.

“EPA will be entering an exciting new era with the commencement of Victoria’s new, world-leading environment laws on 1 July, and it is fitting a new chairperson oversee the next chapter.”

Ms Batagol thanked EPA Cheif Executive Cathy Wilkinson and the executive team for their commitment to service.

“Being the inaugural chairperson of EPA’s statutory Governing Board, which was established on 1 July 2018, has been an absolute honour – and I would like to thank my esteemed colleagues for their support and commitment to EPA and its once-in-a-generation reforms,” Ms Batagol said.

“Prior to this, I was a standalone chair and then chairperson of EPA’s Interim Advisory Board. Having a full statutory board has brought stronger governance and greater diversity, which we are now seeing the benefits of.”

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New powers to stop polluters for EPA Victoria

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.

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