Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says local businesses at Hamilton, Ararat and Beaufort need to better understand their responsibilities to the environment, following a June inspection blitz.

Inspections were conducted for three days early in June, providing information on the new Environment Protection Act 2017 and practical advice on fixing or preventing any compliance problems they found.

The new act took effect on 1 July 2021 and introduced a General Environmental Duty that requires all Victorians to take reasonable actions to reduce the risk of harm from their activities to human health and the environment, from pollution or waste.

The officers visited 13 business locations in Hamilton, and 11 in Ararat and Beaufort, with identified issues including stormwater management, or waste storage and disposal, especially with liquid wastes.

EPA Southwest Regional Manager Carolyn Francis says the team will be back, to visit more businesses and check pre-identified problems have been fixed.

“EPA has a variety of official tools for ensuring compliance, including legally enforceable remedial notices and enforcement options from official warnings to fines and prosecutions, but we find most businesspeople want to do the right thing and respond well to our advice,” Ms Francis said.

“A lot of it is about prevention, achieving compliance before there’s a problem with waste finding its way into local drains and waterways, or onto neighbouring properties,” Ms Francis said.

The new act extends the types of businesses required to apply for an EPA licence, permit or registration to continue to operate. 

“There’s plenty of useful information on the new laws and how to comply with them on the EPA website,” Ms Francis said.

“There will be more inspections in the coming months and our officers will be looking in on businesses we’ve already identified as needing to make changes, and checking on their progress,” she said.

EPA also met with a number of stakeholders whilst in the area to talk about mutual priorities and working together.  

The EPA website explains the new law and has advice documents for specific duties and industries, at epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/new-laws-and-your-business/general-environmental-duty


Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or providing details online at epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

Business operators can also call the EPA hotline for advice on their responsibilities and how to comply.

Reviewed 21 June 2022