The Victorian Government has introduced into Parliament the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018, creating an enforceable General Environmental Duty intended 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 including strengthening powers for EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.
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.
To cut red tape, EPA will be given a more flexible environmental audit system and range of licences, permits, and registrations.
The reforms were developed in response to recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into the EPA with funding of over $180 million provided to update the regulatory role of the EPA.
The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018, which is intended to come into effect from 1 July, 2020, is available here.