Victoria’s new environmental laws explained

Victoria's General Environmental Duty

The Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act), coming into effect on 1 July 2021, will bring with it significant changes to how environmental laws and regulations operate in Victoria. The Act offers a framework that is underpinned by a ‘preventative’ approach to the protection of human health and the environment, rather than one of ‘reactivity’.

With a stronger emphasis on preventing harm, the Act increases the severity of penalties for those who are non-complaint and empowers the Environment Protection Authority (EPA Victoria) to work with businesses in both the management and prevention of harm in the instance of environmental damage, or in the presence of a risk that could cause harm. The introduction of the General Environmental Duty (GED) is an example of how this preventative model will apply.

What is the General Environmental Duty?

The GED is at the centre of the new laws. It places a greater responsibility on the business owner or landowner, as well as tenants, contractors, or anyone who might be in the position to control what happens on site to minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment.

If you have information which may indicate that there is potential for contamination to be present on your site, and which may pose a risk of harm, you will have an obligation to notify EPA Victoria of that potential contamination. In addition, if the land you control is confirmed to be contaminated, you will have a duty to ensure that it is managed properly. You will also have a duty to properly manage any wastes which are generated on a site you control.

How Douglas Partners can assist

Douglas Partners’ environmental team can advise you on what might be the extent of your Environmental Duty, based on the specifics of your site or sites. We are also keeping track of further information being released by EPA Victoria, as it becomes available.

If you would like to discuss these changes with Douglas Partners environmental team, please get in contact with us.

Dean Woods (Team Leader)
E: [email protected]
M: 0412 067 691

Paul Moritz (Environmental Auditor)
E: [email protected]
M: 0429 885 475