ON July 1, 2021 a new EPA law was put into effect.
The new Act completes the legislative overhaul of EPA Victoria and gives Victoria stronger, more modern environment protection laws.
Preventing environmental harm and protecting human health is at the core of this Act. It empowers EPA with a range of new measures to actively prevent pollution, improving Victoria's environment and our health and wellbeing; and stronger powers and the ability to issue tougher penalties for environmental offences.
The changes will impact local government procedures around environmental and sustainability practices said Horsham Rural City Council Environmental Health Coordinator, Luke Mitton.
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"The EPA have created a new Environment Protection Act and regulations that give greater powers to EPA and other agencies to regulate and control pollution issues," he said.
"The General Environmental Duty which applies to all Victorians works like the OHS legislation making it every person's responsibility to ensure that there is no impact to Human health and Environment from a variety of sources.
"The changes affect council as a regulator and as manager of waste and operations. Council has been given greater enforcement tools to help control issues around noise, onsite wastewater and litter."
Yarriambiack Shire Council has been working since earlier this year to be compliant with the new laws, which included the decommission of the Warracknabeal landfill site.
"Council's requirements under the new Law will see the ten Transfer Stations registered with the EPA, a Yarriambiack Council spokesperson said.
"In regards to onsite wastewater disposal, the new EPA changes were minimal and wont present any noticeable changes to members of the public utilising Council's permit system service.
"Fees have increase slightly (around five percent), however, council elected to charge approximately half of the prescribed minimal fee set in the new regulations. Council had the power to reduce the minimum fee set in the regulations and felt it provided a more accessible and fairer permit system given the 2020/21 fees."
OTHER EPA NEWS:
It was also noted that the new law highlights prevention with a new action called the general environmental duty.
"This duty requires you to take reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or reduce the risks of harm to people and the environment from pollution and waste," the Yarriambiack Council spokesperson said.
It applies to all individuals, businesses and councils that might be involved in activities that have the potential to harm the environment.
"From Council's waste management perspective, we will now have to register all of our transfer stations under the permissions framework before December, 31 2021 and comply with relevant requirements," the spokesperson said.
"We also have the obligation to ensure that the industrial waste is transported and disposed of properly. This task is currently undertaken by Wimmera Mallee Waste for us."
"There is a stringent requirement while disposing or engaging a contractor to dispose of 'Priority' industrial waste (hazardous). We are required to used the waste tracker app to notify EPA of those activities."
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