Get ready for mandatory environmental reporting in Victoria
New mandatory reporting requirements related to contamination are set to be introduced in Victoria as part of the Victorian Government’s first major overhaul of the Environment Protection Act since the landmark legislation was ratified in 1970. This overhaul follows the independent inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) , which was completed in mid-2016. The reformed Act is scheduled to be introduced to Parliament this year.
Currently there is no requirement for mandatory reporting of the existence of contamination in Victoria, unless the site is subject to an Environmental Audit under the Act. By comparison, mandatory reporting provisions already exist in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and ACT.
A phase in period for mandatory reporting is expected to enable businesses to prepare for the new requirements. Now is the ideal time for businesses to start reviewing the contamination status of their properties, and to ensure that their operations are being undertaken in a way that minimizes environmental harm.
The reformed Act is also expected to give EPA new preventative powers to ensure that businesses operate in a manner that prevents or minimises pollution, rather apply penalties once an incident has occurred. This expected emphasis on pollution prevention aligns with contemporary legislation in other jurisdictions and emphasizes the need for business to have appropriate environmental management systems, plans and procedures in place to prevent or minimise the potential for pollution.