The Annual Compliance Plan informs the community of EPA’s planned and proactive compliance activities over the coming year. 2012–13 is the first year for which EPA has developed, published and committed to such a plan and the targets that it includes. Setting and committing to targets is important in terms of being an accountable and transparent regulator.
Quarter one (Q1) has been a period of major reform across EPA. We implemented phase one of a new business system that will help us manage pollution reports, better harness our intelligence and improve our records of businesses. We also continued with a comprehensive training program of officers. Investing in these two areas will enhance our compliance efforts in the long term.
Following is a summary of Q1 results. A comprehensive report will be released after the second quarter to be able to offer a more representative comparison against our targets.
Summary of results
EPA’s compliance and enforcement is categorised into three key areas:
- pollution response
In Q1, EPA officers conducted nearly 260 inspections in response to emergency incidents and pollution reports.
Through EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) all calls are acknowledged and prioritised as they come in. For Q1 we exceeded our targets in terms of attending reports requiring immediate attendance.
Improvements in Q2 will focus on planned inspections and action on all reports within 28 days.
Between July and September, officers inspected a quarter of our annual target of 300 licence inspections. EPA is on track to complete all licence inspections committed to for 2012–13.
Proactive inspections of high-priority sites listed on EPA's Priority Sites Register (shown on below graph as contaminated land inspections) did not meet targets. However, a clear inspection plan is now scheduled to meet set targets by the end of the year.
Targets around notice follow-up were also not met. During Q1 EPA was transitioning from an old to a new business system, which has meant there were some inconsistencies in the way information was being recorded. This target is a high priority and we are expecting better results in Q2.
* Note – Inspections for annual performance statements and regulatory programs are scheduled for later in the year to coincide with reporting cycles.
Statewide and local strategic initiatives outlined in the plan address environmental compliance problems through a mix of education, creating or updating standards, compliance inspections and engaging with the community. A good example in this category is our illegal dumping strategy where we are on track with targeted strategic inspections and the issuing of notices.
EPA applies the Compliance and Enforcement Policy in all its compliance activities; sanctions issued in line with this policy may be the outcome of activities completed as part of our Annual Compliance Plan.
Between July and September 2012, EPA issued seven official warnings to non-compliant businesses. Official warnings are issued by EPA where the risk of harm to health and the environment or the offender’s culpability is low; for example, non-compliances of an administrative nature. They indicate that further non-compliance will result in an increasing enforcement response.
For Q1, EPA issued 11 penalty infringement notices (PINs) of up to $7000. Offences for which PINs may be applied are well defined and there is usually a low level of danger to the environment, health or wellbeing.
For this period, two major investigations were completed, one resulting in a prosecution, the other resulting in an enforceable undertaking (an alternative agreement to redress non-compliance) that included a restorative justice component.
Focus for Q2
For Q2 the focus is on improving our targets with regard to planned inspections and notice follow-up, and continued work around local strategic initiatives. We will also be able to embark on work related to annual performance statements and other areas listed under the regulatory programs section of the Annual Compliance Plan. Most of these programs are scheduled to report to EPA in September, and these reports inform our compliance and enforcement activities.
We would like your feedback on the first Annual Compliance Plan 2012–13 quarterly report, so that we can improve future editions of the report. We’d appreciate you taking some time to complete the survey below: