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Copies of these Acts are available via www.legislation.vic.gov.au
Environment Protection Act 1970
The Environment Protection Act 1970 was at its inception only the second Act in the world to deal with the whole of the environment in a systematic and integrated way. The Act is outcome oriented, with a basic philosophy of preventing pollution and environmental damage by setting environmental quality objectives and establishing programs to meet them. Over the years the Act has evolved to keep pace with the world's best practice in environment protection regulation and to meet the needs of the community.
Key aims of the Act include sustainable use and holistic management of the environment, ensuring consultative processes are adopted so that community input is a key driver of environment protection goals and programs and encouraging a co-operative approach to environment protection.
To help achieve these aims, the following Principles of Environment Protection were added to the Act in 2001:
- integration of economic, social and environmental considerations
- the precautionary principle
- intergenerational equity
- conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity
- improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms
- shared responsibility
- product stewardship
- wastes hierarchy
- integrated environmental management
Such concepts parallel those included in the National Strategy on Ecologically Sustainable Development and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE).
Changes made to the Act by the Environment Protection (Resource Efficiency) Act 2002 were designed to help all sectors of the Victorian community to continue to find innovative ways of using resources more efficiently and to reduce the ecological impact.
The Act establishes the powers, duties and functions of EPA. These include the administration of the Act and any regulations and orders made pursuant to it, recommending State environment protection policies (SEPPs) and industrial waste management policies (WMPs) to the Governor in Council, issuing works approvals, licences, permits, pollution abatement notices and implementing National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs).
EPA’s statutory functions under the Environment Protection Act 1970 include:
The Environment Protection Act 1970 is available online at the Victorian Law Today Library. Hard copies (paper) are available from the Information Victoria Bookshop and for viewing at the EPA Victoria Library.
For more information read the Guide to the Environment Protection Act.
Environment Protection Act 2017 (the 2017 Act)
In response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA, the Government indicated there would be two phases of legislative reform to overhaul the Environment Protection Act 1970. The first occurred in October 2017, when the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the 2017 Act) was passed by Parliament.
The 2017 Act came into full effect on 1 July 2018. The 2017 Act now must be read as if it forms part of the 1970 Act. It has modernised EPA’s corporate governance and strengthened its status as a science-based regulator. It legislates the role of the EPA’s Governing Board, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Environmental Scientist.
The 2017 Act also states that the objective of the Authority is to protect human health and the environment by reducing the harmful effects of pollution and waste.
Completing the legislative overhaul is the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Amendment Act). In August 2018, the Amendment Act was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent from the Governor of Victoria.
The Government intends for the amended 2017 Act to commence on 1 July 2020.
For more information on EPA's legislative changes, read about our response to the EPA Inquiry. The Victorian Legislation website contains a copy of the Amendment Act.
For more information on the current Environment Protection Act 2017, read the Guides to the Environment Protection Act.
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).
This Act is jointly administered by EPA and Department of Transport.
The Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 is available online at the Victorian Law Today Library. Hard copies (paper) are available from the Information Victoria Bookshop and for viewing at the EPA Victoria Library.
Get information about the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Regulations 2012.
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. The Act establishes the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC), which comprises a Minister from the Commonwealth and each state and territory.
The objective of NEPC is to ensure people are equally protected from air, water and soil pollution and from noise, no matter where they live in Australia. By eliminating differences between participating states in the adoption or implementation of major environment protection measures, distortion of decisions made by the business community and potential fragmentation of markets will be prevented.
The NEPC achieves its objectives through National Environment Protection Measures (NEPMs). NEPMs are broad framework setting statutory instruments, which outline agreed national objectives for protecting or managing particular aspects of the environment.
The National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995 is available online at the Victorian Law Today Library . Hard copies (paper) are available from the Information Victoria Bookshop and for viewing at the EPA Victoria Library.