PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has introduced the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 into Parliament, which will give the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) the powers and tools it needs to stop pollution.
The Bill was part of the Victorian government’s A$180-million reform of the EPA, and base based on recommendations by an Independent Inquiry into the EPA.
In an Australian first, the Bill introduces an enforceable General Environmental Duty to make polluters responsible for eliminating or reducing risks posed to human health or the environment.
Breaches of the General Environmental Duty will result in penalties and sanctions, including criminal charges, with higher maximum penalties to better reflect the seriousness of environmental offences.
The Bill includes a range of measures to help the EPA do its job, including strengthening powers for EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.
“Victorians expect an EPA that can stop polluters and properly enforce the law, that’s what this legislation will deliver,” the Minister said.
“We’re making sure Victoria’s EPA has the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment.”
The Bill also introduces third-party rights, which will give affected community members the opportunity to seek civil remedies to enforce the Environment Protection Act.
In addition, to cut red tape, EPA will be given a more flexible environmental audit system and range of licences, permits, and registrations.