Laws and regulations
The laws protecting the environment and public health.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is an independent statutory authority. We operate under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) and regulations and other instruments made under the Act.
The Act defines how we work with community and industry to minimise risks to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.
Subordinate legislation is the group of tools that sit under the Act. They support the Act to regulate pollution and waste that might impact human health and the environment. Subordinate legislation aims to protect air, water and land. It also covers noise, waste and serious chemical hazards.
We also jointly administer the Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 and administer the National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995.
The Environment Protection Act 2017, as significantly amended by the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 and other Acts, came into effect on 1 July 2021.
It includes environmental obligations and protections for all Victorians and changes Victoria’s focus for environment protection and human health to a prevention-based approach. It includes the general environmental duty (GED).
The Act gives EPA enhanced powers and tools to prevent and minimise the risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste. It also provides EPA with the ability to pursue stronger sanctions and penalties to hold environmental polluters to account.
The main purposes of the Act include:
The purpose of the Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 (POWBONS Act) is to protect the sea and other waters from pollution by oil and noxious substances and to implement the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (the Marpol Convention).
EPA and the Department of Transport jointly administer this Act.
The National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995 is complementary legislation to the other states and the Commonwealth. This Act establishes the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC). It is made up of a Minister from the Commonwealth and each State and Territory. This is to ensure that people are equally protected from air, water soil and noise pollution, no matter where they live in Australia.
The NEPC achieves its objectives through National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs). These are framework-setting statutory instruments that outline agreed national objectives for protecting or managing aspects of the environment.
The National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995 is available at Victorian Legislation.
Regulations support the Act by providing clarity and further detail for duty holders on how to fulfil their obligations. Regulations are used to deal with matters in detail and may contain their own penalties for breaches.
The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (Regulations) support the objectives of the legislation – to prevent or minimise risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste. The objectives of the Regulations are to further the purposes of, and give effect to, the Act by:
The Environment Protection Transitional Regulations 2021 will cease to operate on 30 June 2023. The objectives of these Regulations are:
The Environment Protection Transitional Regulations 2021 are available at Victorian Legislation. A summary of the Regulations is also available.
The Victorian Government created the Environment Protection (Management of Tunnel Boring Machine Spoil) Regulations 2020 (TBMS Regulations) to provide a way for the management and disposal of tunnel boring machine (TBM) spoil.
These Regulations have been saved until 30 June 2023 by the Environment Protection Transitional Regulations 2021 (see above), with certain changes to make them work under the new environmental protection framework. In addition, a new permit activity (L09 - Disposing of tunnel boring machine spoil) has been added to the Environment Protection Regulations 2021.
The TBMS Regulations require duty holders to comply with an EPA-approved Environment Management Plan (EMP) and strict conditions set out in the TBMS Regulations, as amended by the Environment Protection Transitional Regulations 2021.
A person or company with an EMP already approved under the TBMS Regulations can continue to operate under the old laws until 30 June 2023 (unless EPA revokes their EMP). They will need to apply for and obtain an EPA permission to continue the activity from 1 July 2023, or they can choose to apply for an L09 permit now.
The Environment Protection (Management of Tunnel Boring Machine Spoil) Regulations 2020 are available at Victorian Legislation.
These Regulations simply revoke most of the old regulations made under the Environment Protection Act 1970.
Reviewed 2 September 2021