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Overhaul of environmental legislation in Victoria

Overhaul of environmental legislation in Victoria

By Jane Hall and Zina Teoh

Environment Environmental Protection 


Environmental legislation in Victoria is to undergo its most significant change in 50 years, with the passing of the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 in August this year.

The Act will repeal the Environment Protection Act 1970 and amend the Environment Protection Act 2017, with key operative provisions due to commence on 1 July 2020.

The Act will bring pollution prevention, and reducing the potential risk of harm to human health and the environment, to the forefront of the environment protection regime in Victoria. This is a big shift away from the current legislative focus on the consequences of pollution incidents after they occur.

At the heart of this shift in focus is the introduction of the General Environmental Duty, which requires people undertaking 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.

Other changes to the Victorian environment protection regime which will be brought in by the Act include:

  • Introduction of a new duty to manage contaminated land, take action to respond to pollution incidents and notify the EPA of these incidents and contaminated land.
  • Creation of a tiered licensing regime comprised of 3 permission types (licences, permits and registrations).
  • Reform of the current Prescribed Industrial Waste System to a priority waste system.
  • Changes to the environmental audit scheme designed to increase flexibility and reduce costs.
  • Replacement of State Environment Protection Policies with the Environmental Reference Standards.
  • Greater powers for the EPA relating to enforcement, investigations and information sharing.
  • Introduction of new penalties for contraventions of the Act, more flexible sanctions and civil remedies for third parties.

The Law Institute of Victoria will be exploring the changes to the environmental protection regime in Victoria in detail in the Environmental Law: Special Edition of the Law Institute Journal which is to be released next year.


This article has been contributed by Gadens lawyer Zina Teoh and Ashurst senior associate Jane Hall who are members of the LIV Environmental Issues Committee. 



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