The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (EP Act 2018) has now passed into law, having received Royal Assent on 3 September 2018. To help you get across the key changes and practical impacts arising from the Act, and the issues your business should be considering in the lead-up to the Act taking effect in 2020, we've put together a publication called The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 Explained.

The EP Act 2018 introduces some significant thematic shifts in environmental regulation in Victoria, namely:

  1. Broader, stronger powers for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) coupled with increased funding will see the EPA taking a much more front-foot approach to environmental protection.
  2. A shift to a framework which contains proactive duties to prevent harm to the environment and human health.
  3. Increased information sharing due to duties to notify the EPA and third parties of certain incidents and contamination.

What do these changes mean for you?

On a practical level, these reforms will potentially have a number of impacts on your business' operations, including:

  • Land transactions: The way that land transactions occur in the future will change significantly under the new regime. A greater amount of information will be available to allow future owners and occupiers the opportunity to understand the environmental risks and liabilities that may attach to land, addressing problems arising from information asymmetry in transactions.
  • Industry Compliance Codes: The introduction of Compliance Codes gives industries the opportunity to lobby for the development of a set of practices applicable to an industry. Compliance with that Compliance Code would act as a shield from the new general environmental duty.
  • Environmental permissions: Whereas previously businesses were incentivised to seek exemptions from obtaining works approvals or licences to evade additional regulation, businesses may consider actively seeking environmental permissions to authorise activities now to act as a shield from the new general environmental duty. Existing authorisations may require significant amendment to cover 'activities' on a site that previously did not require authorisation.
  • Contaminated land: Pre-existing contamination, depending on levels and the contaminant in question, may need to be notified to the EPA and other parties upon commencement of the new regime. Work may need to commence to understand the extent and nature of pre-existing contamination on-site ahead of this date as land managers and controllers have proactive duties to investigate and assess contamination.
  • Community engagement: Pro-active and successful community engagement in the area surrounding industrial activities is all the more important now given that third parties will, in limited circumstances, be able to seek civil remedies enforcing compliance with licence conditions or the Act. These community justice provisions will mean that enforcement will no longer be the exclusive remit of regulators.

To download a full copy of The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 Explained, click the 'DOWNLOAD' button above.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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