The Victorian Government is releasing new environmental regulations earlier than expected.
The new environmental regulations will form a key pillar for increased EPA enforcement powers and tougher penalties, particularly when it comes to environmental risk prevention.
In short, the new regulations will provide the EPA with expanded powers to regulate businesses to reduce the risk of environmental harm and pollution.
The earlier than expected release means that businesses should become familiar with the new legislation and likely compliance issues.
The EPA has noted some specific sectors for attention under the new regulations, including those involving high-risk activities such as chemical manufacturing, food and beverage processing, waste management, recycling, plastic fabrication moulders, organics processing and agriculture.
A recent report in Footprint News said Victoria’s ‘consolidated environmental regulations to support Victoria’s new environment law will be released for comment in July’.
Consultation is planned
The process for consultation has yet to be detailed, however, according to Footprint News, it is expected that specially arranged consultations with current EPA licence holders will be conducted. These businesses can expect some change, particularly with licence reviews, potentially requiring the development of new systems and processes to ensure ongoing compliance.
Businesses that do not currently operate under an EPA licence should also look closely at the potential impacts of the new laws, and where possible take early action. This would include ensuring a full understanding of environmental risks, and factor-in sufficient time to budget for any operational changes that may be needed.
As the regulations are introduced, businesses that operate potentially high-risk activities are likely to see an increased level of interest from the EPA. High-risk activities include materials recycling, waste handling, chemical storage, and other activities that may generate hazardous emissions or odours.
In essence, these types of activities are inherent to a range of different industries such as chemical manufacturing, food and beverage processing, plastic fabrication, waste management, recycling, organics processors, and agriculture.
Other activities underway within the EPA includes the development of guidance materials designed to assist businesses to comply with new environmental laws. An example of which includes the Guideline for Management and Storage of Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials, released in October 2018.
The process for environmental law reform began in 2016 when the Victorian Government conducted a public inquiry into the function of the EPA, which drew particular attention from both business and community into the EPA’s role in preventing environmental harm. This review led to an overhaul of environmental legislation in Victoria and the amended Environmental Protection Act, which is due to commence on 1 July 2020.
The EPA is holding information sessions for business and community wanting to learn more about the new environmental laws, and the potential impacts.
This article was authored by Nicholas Harford, Managing Director of Equilibrium consultants. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 0419 993 234