Legal Insights

UPDATE: changes to Victoria’s environmental protection legislation

• 04 September 2019 • 2 min read

Changes to Victoria’s environmental protection legislation will introduce a radically different approach to environmental regulation.

As previously reported, Victoria’s EPA, and the environmental protection legislation it administers, are in the midst of major change. The significance of the changes have been variously described by the EPA as “a transformation” and “the single greatest overhaul” of environment protection legislation in Victoria.

Some of these changes, such as changes to the governance framework and objectives of the EPA, are already in effect under the Environment Protection Act 2017. However, it is the changes contained in the Environment Protection (Amendment) Act 2018 which will have far greater impact. These changes will introduce a radically different approach to environmental regulation to that under the existing Environment Protection Act 1970 (1970 Act) and will repeal the 1970 Act. A Fact Sheet of the key changes from the EPA can be found here.

The Government intends for these changes to come into effect on 1 July 2020 (although there is the ability to push this back until 1 December 2020 if required). The extent of change means that it is important that impacted stakeholders are undertaking preparations now.

One of the challenges is the current lack of supporting regulations or guidelines to identify the details of a number of these changes. Until now, it has been apt to use the adage “the devil is in the detail” and at present much of the detail is unknown.

Today signifies the beginning of the next important step in the process with the release of the draft regulations, an associated Regulatory Impact Statement and a draft Environment Reference Standard for public comment to support the Environment Protection Act 2017.

The content of these documents will be vital to help to complete the picture and gain a more comprehensive understanding of how many of these changes are proposed operate in practice.

The documents are on public exhibition until 31 October 2019 and are available here.

Is your council across the pending changes? Does your council need assistance reviewing or getting across the draft regulations and associated documents now that they are available?

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