Legislation

Hierarchy of legislation and guidance

The hierarchy of EPA's environmental legislation and guidance: Acts; SEPPS, WMPs, Regulations and NCOs; EPA guidance.


This page provides a snapshot of the different instruments and documents in our legal framework – including how they are used and how they relate to each other.

Acts

EPA’s primary Act is the Environment Protection Act 1970 (‘EP Act’; Word 1.8MB, Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents). Guide to the Environment Protection Act gives a brief overview.

We also jointly administer the Pollution of Waters by Oils and Noxious Substances Act 1986 (‘POWBONS Act’; PDF 1.9MB, Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents).

We also administer the National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act 1995.

Legislative reform

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 was the passing of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the 2017 Act). The 2017 Act establishes EPA as an independent statutory authority, and legislates the role of the Governing Board, the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Environmental Scientist.

Completing the legislative overhaul is the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Amendment Act), which was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent in August 2018.

The Government intends for the amended 2017 Act to commence on 1 July 2020. Until then, the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the current version of the Environment Protection Act 2017 will continue to apply.

Read more on EPA's legislative reform.

SEPPs, WMPs, Regulations and NCOs

Instrument Explanation
State environment protection policies (SEPPs)
  • Define the uses and environmental values to be protected in Victoria and the environmental quality objectives needed to protect these beneficial uses.
  • Are enforced indirectly via notices, and via licence and works approval conditions.
  • Are established under section 16 of the EP Act, with consultation requirements defined in section 18A.
Waste management policies (WMPs)
  • Set statewide objectives and directions for waste management.
  • Are enforced indirectly via notices, and via licence and works approval conditions.
  • Are enforced, for industrial waste, directly under section 27A of the EP Act.
  • Are established under section 16A of the EP Act, with consultation requirements defined in section 18A.
Regulations
  • Prescribe details (requirements, processes, forms, fees etc).
  • May be directly enforceable (with defined penalties).
  • Are made under section 71 of the EP Act and section 30 of the POWBONS Act, with consultation requirements under the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994.
Notifiable chemical orders (NCOs)
  • Are made when it is necessary to prevent or abate a serious environmental hazard from one or more chemicals.
  • Are made under section 30D of the EP Act.

EPA guidance

Document Explanation
Practice guidance
  • EPA publishes a range of ‘third-level’ documents that provide guidance and/or set out obligations (particularly for industry) in more detail. These currently include:
    • best practice environmental management (BPEM) publications
    • codes of practice
    • guidelines and guidance
    • guidelines for environmental management (GEMs)
    • information bulletins and information sheets
    • protocols for environmental management (PEMs).
  • Some of these documents are referred to in SEPPs, WMPs and Regulations.
  • EPA licence conditions and works approval conditions also require industry to comply with some of these documents.
  • To provide greater clarity, EPA will be:
    • gradually reducing the different types of guidance that it has – to ‘protocols’, ‘guidelines’ or ‘EPA positions’
    • including a clear statement in each document (when it is next reviewed) about its purpose and legal status.
Process guidance

Other EPA documents

Document Explanation
EPA policies
EPA positions
  • EPA will be publishing statements on how it will act in particular situations when the Act provides EPA with some discretion.
EPA reports
  • Reporting on the findings of EPA’s scientific studies, monitoring and assessment work, etc.
EPA information
  • Information on a topic for the broader community, such as EPA’s Noise fact sheet (publication 1467).

Page last updated on 11 Sep 2018