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Introduced into Parliament on 18 June 2018, the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 (Vic) (the Bill) is slated to repeal the current Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) and radically transform Victoria's current environment protection laws.

Underpinning the reformation is a fundamental shift in focus from reactive damage control to proactive prevention of pollution. Once passed, affected individuals and entities will be required to take reasonable steps to mitigate poor pollution and waste management practices so as to better manage risk to the environment and to human health.

The Bill will continue to be debated in Parliament over the month of July. If passed, it is intended to take effect from 1 July 2020, with transitional provisions to be introduced in the meantime.

Key Changes

Alongside increased maximum penalties and sanctions of more than $3 million for companies and up to five years imprisonment for individuals, the Bill contains a number of core changes which are anticipated to significantly impact current business practice. The new laws reflect the EPA's expanded objective to protect both the environment and human health, and bring Victoria's environmental duties and penalties in line with its stronger health and safety laws and environmental laws in other Australian states such as NSW.

  1. General environment duty
  2. Contaminated land duties
  3. Waste management and waste duties
  4.  Pollution incident duties
  5. Three-tiered permissions framework
  6. Tiered audit system
  7. Third party community rights
  8. Penalties and liability for offences

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How this will affect you?

The proposed introduction of new duties and significantly higher penalties, together with a strengthened EPA, mean that greater attention will need to be given to environmental compliance than in the past.

Although the Bill has not yet been passed, business should nonetheless begin reviewing their environmental compliance and waste management plans and practices in preparation for the new laws.
 
The expert Environmental Law team at Baker McKenzie is keeping abreast of all new developments and will provide ongoing updates as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

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