Information on this page is not current law. It details new laws intended to commence on 1 July 2021 under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Environment reference standards

The environment reference standards (ERS) reflect the environmental values the Victorian community wants to achieve and maintain. For example, a standard may describe the quality of water for swimming in a river.  

A standard specifies where in Victoria it applies to. For example, a standard may apply to only Port Phillip Bay, or to all of Victoria.

How environment reference standards are used

Environment reference standards provide a basis for assessing and reporting on environmental conditions.  

An ERS is a reference standard, not a ‘compliance standard’ for businesses. However, some government decision-makers must take the ERS into account when making certain decisions.  

EPA may also use the ERS for:  

  • making other decisions under the Environment Protection Act 2017  (the Act) that may impact a location’s environmental values  
  • setting benchmarks and goals for maintaining long-term environmental values  
  • monitoring changes in the environment over time.  

When relevant, the following people can also consider the environment reference standards:  

  • the Minister when making Regulations, developing compliance codes or declaring issues of environmental concern  
  • environmental auditors when conducting audits  
  • Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) when relevant to reviewing EPA decisions  
  • responsible authorities, when making planning decisions.  

In 2019, Engage Victoria held a consultation on a draft ERS. Following public comments, the ERS will be completed before the Act commences. After that, more information about the ERS will be made available.  

Read more about new laws

Your duty to reasonably prevent harm: what is reasonably practicable

Dealing with pollution incidents

Managing contaminated environments

Managing waste

Reviewed 30 March 2020