Environment Protection Act 2017 commences

From 1 July, the Environmental Protection Act 2017 comes into effect.

This Act introduces a swathe of new laws designed to protect the environment and public from pollution and waste. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will now have greater powers in enforcing measures to protect the environment.

VCAT’s role will expand with greater authority to review the new range of notices and decisions the Act commences with. 

The 2017 Act gives the EPA a clear statement of objectives and establishing the cornerstone General Environmental Duty (GED). A range of licences, permits and registrations are established under a permission scheme. These measures provide the EPA with a proactive platform to prevent environmental damage before it occurs. 

Major changes under the 2017 Act enable VCAT to review more decisions made by the EPA. The number of ‘reviewable decisions’ includes the following notices and orders:

  • improvement and prohibition notices – to bring duty holders back into compliance with the law
  • notices to investigate – to force duty holders to investigate potential causes of pollution
  • Environment Action Orders – to ensure duty holders fix any environmental damage or pollution that has occurred
  • Site Management Orders – long term management of pre-contaminated or vulnerable land (eg. decommissioned industrial sites, old landfills, etc.)

VCAT’s powers to review notices are designed to provide opportunities for independent review of decisions made by the EPA that may have far reaching impact. 

Further information about the new laws, the GED and other environmental protection obligations can be found on the EPA website.