Victoria's new Environmental Protection regime now in effect

01 Jul 2021

Victoria's environmental protection regime has now shifted to a more preventative and duties-based framework, with the commencement today of the major reforms in the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (Vic) (2018 Act). 

From 1 July, the 2018 Act amends the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic) (2017 Act) and replaces the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic), to form a new environment protection regime for Victoria. The Environment Protection Regulations 2021, the Environment Protection Transitional Regulations 2021 and the Environment Reference Standard made under the 2017 Act have also now commenced. 

Key changes include:

  • the introduction of the general environmental duty (GED), which requires persons engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste to minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable;
  • a new duty to notify EPA of land contaminated with "notifiable contamination'";
  • a new duty to notify EPA of notifiable pollution incidents;
  • an overhaul of the waste regime;
  • a new duty to actively manage contaminated land;
  • a new three-tiered permissions regime; and
  •  new obligations in relation to the prevention of unreasonable noise.

What you need to do if you manage or control land in Victoria

It is important that you understand how the new regime operates and its implications for you and your business, particularly as a result of the GED and the new statutory duties that impose immediate requirements.

If you manage or control contaminated land, you need to be aware of both your duty to manage contaminated land, and your duty to notify EPA of notifiable contamination.

You will need to update your processes and systems to reflect the new regime and its associated duties and obligations, including to satisfy the GED and mandatory reporting obligations for notifiable contamination and notifiable incidents.

EPA's website provides industry-based guidance which may assist you in understanding the new regime and how to comply. EPA has also recently released guidance on the duty to notify EPA of notifiable contamination.

Given the magnitude of the change introduced by the reforms, we will be providing you with regular topic based insights into the duties and obligations that it imposes. Initial articles will address the:

  • GED;
  • management of contaminated land;
  • new duty to notify EPA of notifiable contamination; and
  • new waste regime.

Our articles will contain a list of relevant provisions, regulations and EPA guidance material (with links) to assist you in complying with your new duties and obligations.  

Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.