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EPA administers laws and regulations that protect our environment and health from pollution and waste in Victoria.

Acts we administer include:

  • Environment Protection Act 1970
  • Environment Protection Act 2017
  • Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1986
  • National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995

These Acts aim to:

  • prevent pollution and environmental damage by setting environmental quality objectives
  • establish programs to protect the environment
  • meet objectives to preserve environmental quality.

The Acts have evolved to:

  • keep pace with the world's best practice in environment protection regulation
  • meet the needs of the community.

Environment Protection Act 1970

When first put in place, the Environment Protection Act 1970 was only the world’s second Act to deal with the whole environment in a systematic and integrated way.  

The Act is outcome oriented, aiming to prevent pollution and environmental damage. It sets environmental quality objectives, and puts in place programs to meet them. The Act has evolved over time to keep pace with the world's best practice in environment protection regulation and to meet community needs.  

The Act provides a legal framework to protect the environment in the State of Victoria. It applies to noise emissions and the air, water and land in Victoria, the territorial sea along the Victorian coast and to the discharge of waste to the Murray River from any premises in Victoria.

The Act’s key aims include:  

  • sustainable use and holistic environmental management   
  • ensuring consultative processes to ensure community input is a key driver of environment protection goals and programs  
  • encouraging a co-operative approach to environment protection.  

The Act establishes EPA’s powers, duties and functions. These include: 

  • administration of the Act and any Regulations and orders made from it  
  • recommending state environment protection policies (SEPPs) and waste management policies (WMPs) to the Governor in Council  
  • issuing works approvals and licences, permits, and pollution abatement notices  
  • putting in place National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs).  

EPA’s statutory functions under the Environment Protection Act 1970 include:  

The Environment Protection Act 1970 is available at Victorian Legislation.  

Environment Protection Act 2017 (the 2017 Act)

From July 2021, EPA will enforce new laws aimed at preventing harm to public health and the environment from pollution and waste.  

Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986

The purpose of the Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 (POWBONS) is to protect the sea and other waters from pollution by oil and noxious substances. This Act also implements the Marpol Convention (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973).  

EPA and the Department of Transport jointly administer this Act.  

The Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 is available at Victorian Legislation.  

Find information about the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Regulations 2012 at Victorian Legislation .  

National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995

The National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995 is complementary legislation to the other states and the Commonwealth. This Act puts in place the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC), which comprises a Minister from the Commonwealth and each state and territory.  

The  NEPC aims to ensure people are equally protected from air, water soil and noise pollution, no matter where they live in Australia. The NEPC aims to eliminate differences between states in how they put in place major environment protection measures. The aim of this is to ensure business community decisions are not distorted, and markets do not fragment as a result.  

The NEPC achieves its objectives through National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs). These are framework setting statutory instruments. NEPMs 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

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Reviewed 17 September 2020