The Victorian Government has tabled the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 (Vic) in Parliament to introduce extensive reforms to environmental regulation in Victoria.
The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 (Vic) (Bill) was introduced into the Victorian Parliament on 19 June 2018 and is proposed to replace the existing Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) (Act).
The new regime focuses on prevention of environmental harm and introduces a range of significant new powers, duties and compliance mechanisms.
The Bill is the second stage of the Victorian Government’s response to the 2016 Inquiry into the EPA, after the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic) introduced new objectives and changes to the EPA’s governance structure. On 23 May 2018 the EPA announced its new Governing Board led by Cheryl Batagol PSM to replace the Interim Advisory Board which was in place since January 2017.
If passed, the new regime will give effect to a fundamental change to the policy underpinning environmental regulation in the State, and introduce extensive reforms to the regulatory mechanisms and role of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
What you need to know
The Bill proposes a complete overhaul of the environmental regulatory framework in Victoria. To assist you to navigate the implications of the Bill, we have distilled down some of the key reforms that are likely to affect you below. We will explore these further as the Bill is debated and detailed regulations and new environment reference standards are developed.
The Bill introduces a modernised framework for identifying potential and actual material harm to the environment, and a raft of duties on businesses and individuals and powers for the EPA to manage the response to the risks of that harm. Industry will be subject to heightened obligations to identify and actively take steps to respond to environmental risks.
|New compliance and enforcement powers; a new notice regime.||
|New third party rights||
The Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 22 August 2018 with some minor amendments, and received Royal Assent on 28 August 2018.
The key amendments to the EP Act introduced by the Bill are to commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation, or by 1 December 2020 if not commenced by that date. The Government has stated that it intends the new legislation to take effect from 1 July 2020.
What does it mean for me and my business?
Many businesses will need to plan for these substantial changes, in particular taking steps to identify and address environmental risks from your activities, and ensuring that your HSE compliance and operations procedures are in alignment with the new environmental duties. Many landowners will need to undertake technical due diligence to understand their obligations in relation to any contamination affecting their land.
We are available to assist you in navigating the upcoming changes and to help you consider the potential impacts of the key reforms under the Bill. We will also be running workshops and seminars to assist you to manage the transition to these new regulatory requirements.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about the new regulatory framework, please contact:
The contents of this publication, current at the date of publication set out above, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.
© Herbert Smith Freehills 2019