Programs and initiatives

Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment

Local government and Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) play a vital role in responding to pollution and waste issues that compromise environmental and public health, and adversely impact livability and amenity in Victoria. As part of its response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA, the Victorian Government has committed $4.8 million to implement a pilot program of Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs). 

OPLE authorised officers have key powers which include:

  • power of entry (EPA Act s55(1))
  • inspection andd assessment of compliance (EP Act s55)
  • issuing inspection reports
  • issuing remedial notices (EP Act s31A, s31A, s31B, s62A).

OPLEs do not have authorisation to:

  • issue directions under EP Act s62B.

This pilot program will see 11 officers authorised under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and embedded within 13 local councils across the state. Since the release of its response, the Victorian Government has been engaging with key local government, industry and community stakeholders to gain their input into the design and rollout of the pilot program. All Victorian councils were invited to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot program. 

The pilot OPLE program commenced in September 2017, to run for 15 months. OPLEs will be EPA employees embedded within Victorian councils and will address small-scale pollution reports that are currently not being comprehensively addressed by either local councils or the EPA. 

The councils selected for the pilot are:

EPA will work with each of these councils individually to implement the OPLE Pilot Program.

For more information, download Fact sheet: OPLE pilot program (publication 1685) or call 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

Q and A on Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs) + Expand all Collapse all

  • What are the goals of the OPLE program

    The goals of the pilot program are :

    • to improve responses to pollution and complaints
    • to improve industry compliance with their environmental obligations
    • to prevent harm
    • to improve capability and relationships between local government and EPA.
  • The Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs) pilot program is scheduled to begin in September. How will this pilot work on the ground?

    EPA will employ the OPLEs, and maintain oversight of the OPLE activities, and provide specialist technical advice. On a day-to-day basis, OPLEs will be managed by their hosting council. The OPLE  will respond to reports from local community and businesses on lower risk pollution issues which can be investigated under EPA's legislation. Key focus areas will be small scale commercial and industrial sources of pollution and waste, with the potential to provide technical assistance where required.

    EPA and individual councils are currently working together to tailor work plans to ensure the needs of the local community are met, and will continue to work closely together to ensure the OPLEs remain focused on the scope of works.

  • How will the responsibilities of OPLEs differ from EPA authorised officers EPA's authorised officers will continue to address and investigate more complex, higher risk waste and pollution issues. OPLEs will be responsible for addressing lower risk, less complex, localized pollution and waste issues (for example, odour from spray painters, small scale dumped building waste or dust from subdivision work).  
  • How will the OPLE pilot be evaluated EPA is currently developing the evaluation plan for the program in consultation with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
  • When will the OPLEs start?

    All OPLEs have commenced employment and are undertaking intensive training to be authorized before the end of 2017. OPLEs are fulltime employees of EPA Victoria. There are two part-time officers sharing the OPLE role at City of Casey.

Page last updated on 30 Jan 2018