The environment protection principles guide EPA's decision making. They are listed on this page and can be found in Part 2.3 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act).

You must consider the principles when preparing an application. You must consider the principles when preparing an application. Applications may be for a permission, permission exemption or other instrument.

An application must:
  • demonstrate which of the principles are relevant, which are not, and why, and
  • demonstrate how the principles will be met. This should detail the measures that can meet the principles. The measures include practices, techniques, and technologies.

The environment protection principles in the Act are given below.

Principle of integration of environmental, social and economic considerations

Environmental, social and economic considerations should be effectively integrated.

Explanatory Note: The integration of the considerations aims to assist in reaching a balanced decision. It recognises that there may be compromises between competing concerns and values.  Depending on the nature of the proposal, considerations may vary in scope. Consideration may need to be given varying geographies or timeframes – for example, to local, regional and global impacts or to short, medium and long-term timeframes.

Principle of proportionality

A decision, action or thing directed towards minimising harm or a risk of harm to human health or the environment should be proportionate to the harm or risk of harm that is being addressed.

Principle of primacy of prevention

Prevention of harm to human health and the environment is preferred to remedial or mitigation measures.

Principle of shared responsibility

Protection of human health and the environment is a responsibility shared by all levels of government, industry, business, communities and the people of Victoria.

Principle of polluter pays

Persons who generate pollution and waste should bear the cost of containment, avoidance and abatement.

Principle of waste management hierarchy

Waste should be managed in accordance with the following order of preference, so far as reasonably practicable:

  1. avoidance;
  2. reuse;
  3. recycling;
  4. recovery of energy;
  5. containment;
  6. waste disposal.

Explanatory Note: This principle involves a hierarchy of preference for the management of wastes. It is preferable to address the cause rather than manage the impacts or consequences.

Principle of evidence-based decision making

Actions or decisions under this Act should be based on the best available evidence in the circumstances that is relevant and reliable.

Precautionary principle

If there exist threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent or minimise those threats.

Principle of equity

  1. All people are entitled to live in a safe and healthy environment irrespective of their personal attributes or location.
  2. People should not be disproportionately affected by harm or risks of harm to human health and the environment.
  3. The present generation should ensure the state of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.

Principle of accountability

Members of the public should:

  1. have access to reliable and relevant information in appropriate forms to facilitate a good understanding of issues of harm or risks of harm to human health and the environment and of how decisions are made under this Act; and
  2. be engaged and given opportunities to participate in decisions made under this Act, where appropriate to do so; and
  3. have their interests taken into account in decisions made under this Act.


Principle of conservation

Biological diversity and ecological integrity should be protected for purposes that include the protection of human health.

Reviewed 10 July 2023