EPA gives some powers to councils to manage pollution and waste issues under the Environment Protection Act 2017

The powers we give local councils cover:

  • noise
  • odour
  • dust
  • agricultural spray drift (when chemical spray affects nearby properties).


Councils play a major role in improving the environmental management of urban stormwater. This includes requirements under the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) which include:

  • developing stormwater management plans
  • implementing ways to manage new developments and drainage systems
  • monitoring and reporting to the community and other stakeholders on the impact of stormwater.

Councils use our support and guidance to help them meet their obligations.

Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs)

Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs) are EPA environment protection officers based in local councils. OPLEs and council officers respond to smaller-scale and lower risk waste and pollution complaints such as:

  • small scale illegal waste disposal
  • litter
  • noise
  • dust
  • odour from smaller business and industry
  • illegal chemical and waste stockpiling.

OPLEs add to the work councils already do in environment and public health protection.

An OPLE in a council doesn't change EPA’s work reducing pollution and waste at larger, more complex sites. EPA remains in charge of compliance, enforcement and action to prevent pollution in these situations. OPLEs help industry, business and community find, prevent and resolve environmental issues.

Find out about what OPLEs do and how they work with councils taking part in the program.

Local government as a duty holder

Local government has a unique role as both a duty holder and co-regulator of Victoria’s environment protection laws.

The local government sector guide (publication 1821) is for councils in their role of duty holder. It can help identify activities that could cause pollution or create waste and potentially harm our health or the environment.

The guide includes information about:

  • managing your risks, including examples of how this can be done using a simple four-step process.
  • your legal obligations, starting with the general environmental duty
  • EPA’s approach to compliance and enforcement
  • common hazards in councils.

The guide doesn’t tell you what specific controls to put in place. It links to guidance which has information about controls, and you can decide what best suits your circumstances.

More detail about the four-step risk management process is in Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business (publication 1695).

More about our partners

How EPA works with government

How EPA works with reference groups

Reviewed 6 November 2019