New powers for EPA

Victoria’s environment protection laws are being changed to strengthen the Environment Protection Authority’s enforcement powers.
From July 1, 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will come into effect and will focus on preventing waste and pollution impacts rather than managing those impacts after they have occurred.
The new Act gives the EPA, as the regulator, significant deterrents including fines up to $1.6 million for breaches.
Reckless and deliberate acts that cause pollution could lead to fines of up to $3.2m and possible jail for individuals.
Businesses, as well as individuals, will be covered by the new laws.
The EPA has described the changes as the biggest transformation in the organisation’s history.
“The region has faced environmental challenges including sewage spills and pollution events in our creeks and waterways. EPA officers are often called because of pollution incidents and the public are very good at maintaining a watchful eye,” said EPA northwest regional manager Dr Scott Pigdon.
“This Act will help us prevent those and other kinds of pollution challenges. While there are businesses that wilfully ignore their obligation to protect the environment, many simply don’t understand what they have to do to be compliant with it.
“Ignorance is not a defence and from July 2020 offenders could face large fines if they cause pollution and harm the environment or the community.
“If a business is not compliant, they should know the potential penalties can be extremely costly, and as the Act gives wider powers, there’s a much greater chance of detection leading to an EPA sanction.”

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