Loading...

Tag Archives: Compliance

New EPA Regulations for Victoria 2020

Major reforms to Victoria’s Environment Protection regulations represent a major transformation to how EPA Victoria will operate to protect public health and the environment.

In July 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will come into effect and it represents a major shift in the regulations and their state- wide application. The key elements of the Act cover the following themes:

> Prevention
> Flexible and risk-based
>
Transparency
>
Justice

General environmental duty

General environmental duty (GED) is a key focus and a new concept under the Act. The EPA’s definition for GED is:

“A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable”.

The EPA talks about a three-step process to comply with GED:

1. The duty holder needs to understand the risks that pollution or waste from their activities might present to human health or the environment.
2. The ways those risks can be controlled need to be identified and understood.
3. Duty holders are required to put in place any reasonably practicable measures to reduce the likelihood of the possible harm arising.

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 involves various other requirements that will affect businesses and industry. More information is available via the EPA Victoria website.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to comply with the Act. We will continue to unpack the Act and share our observations in future blogs. If you have any questions about the  changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

For our previous post on the Victorian EPA, visit here.

Emerging environmental compliance in Victoria

The need for business transition

Protecting the environment is a major area of activity for governments and business, particularly as we face complex pollution and waste management issues that can affect human health and sensitive ecosystems.

The Victorian Government has been working systematically to modernise the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in order to meet Victoria’s environment and human health challenges. The government response to the EPA Inquiry details the suite of reforms for the overall transformation of the EPA to a world class environmental regulator. It is important to note that these are the first major reforms since the EPA was formed in 1971.

The implementation of the reforms seeks to ensure that the:

> EPA will protect Victorians’ health and their environment, preventing and reducing harmful effects of pollution and waste.

> EPA will deliver efficient, proportionate and consistent regulation which is vital for economic prosperity by ensuring Victoria is an attractive place to invest, work, live and visit.

In many respects, the reforms establish a stronger emphasis on preventing environmental harm and foreseeable hazards and risks.

Figure 1. Summary of the EPA reforms and business regulation
The need for businesses to be prepared

The process highlights the on-going need for businesses to identify compliance issues and risks and be ready to transition to new requirements in a timely and considered manner.

The Victorian Environment Protection Act has now been updated and includes new provisions for governance arrangements.

The reform agenda will also bring about significant changes as to how businesses and organisations will be regulated in regard to environmental risk. A key change is the introduction of a ‘General Duty’ that will be used to strengthen EPA capability to prevent environmental harm.

The introduction of a General Duty will involve the use of ‘Codes of Practice’, an approach that is already widely used within Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation and regulation. For example, in Victoria OHS Law and Code of Practice provides practical guidance on how to comply with relevant regulation. The VIC EPA now makes it clear that this approach provides a preferred model to apply in regard to environmental regulation in Victoria.

Adherence to Codes of Practice will certainly involve sites that require EPA Licensing and Works Approvals. Beyond such sites, the VIC EPA is looking to create a register of businesses with activities that have a regulatory significance.

Initially the register may be based on the dangerous goods notifications register managed by WorkSafe, which could involve up to 2,800 businesses. The EPA is also looking to register other businesses that have a potential higher risk profile, examples of which include dry cleaners, electroplaters, petrol stations and non-intensive agricultural businesses.

The range of activities requiring works approvals and licensing is also set to be expanded. The current recommendations involve potentially expanding licensing to:

> Waste companies
> Recyclers
> Transfer stations
> Agriculture based businesses

The EPA has put in place a five-year strategy to implement the reform recommendations.

Guidance and support for businesses

Helping companies to be prepared and ready for the reforms is an essential part of the process.

Equilibrium is well positioned to support businesses to assess and prepare for impending regulatory changes. Our depth of experience relating to environmental and OHS risk management is at the forefront when it comes to identifying and preventing harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.

Equilibrium’s knowledge of risk analysis and developing risk management strategies is founded on working to meet compliance requirements of Environmental and OHS regulations across Australia. Our experience covers leading projects across Australia.

Regular updates on reform implementation program are available at https://engage.vic.gov.au/reform-epa

More information

Contact Nicholas Harford for more information about Equilibrium’s services and how we can support your readiness for the reforms:

Nicholas Harford
Mobile: 0419 993 234  or  nick@equil.com.au