Webinar recorded on 3/2/2021
OK, good afternoon, everybody out there,
and welcome to our webinar.
My name is Chris Francis.
I work in the EPA Victoria Communications and Engagement Directorate.
Before I start, I just wanted to make a couple of acknowledgements, and
do excuse me as I read from notes.
EPA acknowledges Aboriginal people as the first peoples and traditional
custodians of the land and water on which we live, work and depend.
We pay respect to Aboriginal. Elders past and present.
As Victoria's environmental regulator, we pay respect to how
country has been protected and cared for by Aboriginal people over
many tens of thousands of years.
We recognise the unique, spiritual, and cultural significance of land, water,
and all that is in the environment and continuing connection and
aspirations for country of Aboriginal people and traditional custodians.
Today I'd also like to acknowledge members of EPA Victoria's board, executive
leadership team, and our partners at the. Department of Land, Water, and Planning.
OK, I'd like to remind everyone that today's session is being recorded.
The recording slides and relevant links will be made available to all
who have registered through Eventbrite.
The best way to communicate with our support team is through the Q&A feature.
This can be found on the top right-hand of the screen in Teams.
If you'd like to access the closed captions, a link has been shared in
the Q&A announcement feature of Teams.
It can also be found on the Eventbrite page and in your reminder email.
Thank you all for joining this session on Victoria's new environment
protection laws, and particularly the proposed final subordinate legislation
under the Environment Protection Act.
There's been an excellent response to this event.
We've had over 3,800 people registered and around 200-odd pre-submitted
questions from all over Victoria.
And what a beautiful day it is in our state.
From industry community, local government, and our state government
partners, we found some common themes in the pre-submitted questions,
and our presenters will respond to some of those during this session.
Therefore we have limited time around 15 minutes for a live
Q&A at the end of the session.
We encourage you to ask questions relating to the content you see today
using the Q&A feature available to you.
These questions will be moderated and we will cluster the questions
into themes so that the most common questions can be answered in the
Q&A at the end by our presenters.
Presenters will be helped in the back-end by a small panel of EPA
experts working in the background.
So, you might just see them look to the side occasionally.
This is so we can get the best answers to you.
We'll publishing the questions that come through on topics discussed
today into the Q&A feature on Teams.
So, some of them we'll put up and we'll publish, but given the interest in the
event, we will only have time to answer a few of the most popular questions.
If one of the published questions is something you'd like to know
more about, you can always click "Like" to show your interest.
We will work through the questions we aren't able to answer today over
the coming weeks and we will commit to publishing the most frequently,
asked questions and answers and putting them on our website,
making them publicly available.
So, thank you to everyone who's committed to providing us with questions already,
over 200, and also for those putting the questions into the chat today.
Just a note for questions or comments related to issues, current issues that
we're dealing with as a regulator, we won't get to those today.
And I reiterate that the session is about the new laws.
So, please be mindful of that when submitting your questions.
Queries relating to issues need to be triaged through our
contact centre on 1 300 372 842.
Now, the information presented in today's webinar is provided
as general guidance only.
It doesn't constitute legal or professional advice, and shouldn't
be relied on as a replacement for consulting the laws directly to
understand how they may applies to you.
You should obtain professional advice if you have any specific concerns.
OK, with that all done, to the agenda.
First up, we'll have Matt d'Abbs.
He's our Acting Executive. Director of Regulatory
Capability, Engagement And legal.
He'll provide an overview of the Act.
We'll then pause for a couple of the pre-submitted questions that
you've given which were themed up and answers on the new Act itself.
Well then - excuse me.
We'll then move to the main presentation from our Director of Policy and
Regulation, Jacquie Stepanoff, who will provide an overview of the
proposed final environment reference standard and environment protection
regulations on waste and permissions.
Stephen Gottfried will then step in.
Stephen is our program manager for regulatory reform.
He'll take you through proposed final regulations and standards
in relation to onsite wastewater management systems, contaminated
environments, litter, air, water, noise, fees, and financial assurances.
It'll go back to Jacqui, she'll wrap up with the next steps before we go into our
substantive and larger Q&A session, which will include the most asked questions
from the duration of the session.
And I'll close the meeting, showing you where to find more information, links,
and how best to stay in touch with us.
We'll also provide a survey to all registered attendees via
Eventbrite after the meeting.
Now it's over to Matt d'Abbs who'll take you through a
succinct overview of the new laws.
Thanks, Chris, and good afternoon, everyone.
Thank you for your interest in attendance this afternoon, it's fantastic.
But in these challenging times, technology has given us the
opportunity to reach so many of you.
As Chris has introduced me, I won't reiterate that.
I'm current acting executive director of regulatory
capability, engagement and legal.
The primary focus of the session this afternoon is on
the subordinate legislation.
But ahead of that, I'll be providing a high-level overview of the Act itself
and the key obligations that it imposes.
As we approach 1 July, 2021, and the commencement of our new laws,
it's worth remembering that this journey started over five years ago.
And the key things of our new Act reflect stakeholder feedback through the
inquiry process undertaken in 2015-16.
Victorians wanted a more preventative approach to environmental protection.
And the cornerstone of this is the introduction of our general
environmental duty that I'll talk to.
The Act also introduces greater flexibility and proportionality
to risk through the GED, complimentary tools in the licencing,
permission and registrations sphere, contamination, and waste.
The Act aims to provide clarity and certainty for business by focusing
compliance obligations on the preventative actions that can be taken
to prevent harm before it occurs.
Stakeholders also said they wanted more transparency.
And the Act introduces a number of reforms to ensure more environmental
information is in the public domain to support good environmental
decision-making and provide access to information about regulatory decisions
and the state of the environment.
There are also environmental justice initiatives in the Act, access to
a greater range of sanctions and innovative approaches to allow for
rights of review and participation in decision-making processes.
Last but not least, the modernisation of the EPA.
There's modernised governance with the introduction of our new statutory board
and the modernisation of our tools and powers to align EPA with other regulators.
Broadly speaking, the main change coming with the new Act is a focus on preventing
harm, whereas the 1970 Act had the focus on the consequences of harm, both from
authorised and unauthorised sources.
The focus on preventing harm requires us to rethink the way harm arises.
This means starting with the source, in particular the activities that people
engage in which create a risk of harm occurring, looking at the chain of events
that lead to that harm, and cutting off the opportunity for the harm to occur.
So, take the example shown here in the image.
At one end is the harm to ae waterway caused by the release of pollution.
But moving back up the chain of events that caused the pollution, we can see that
there are steps that could have been taken to cut that pathway and prevent the harm.
Under the 2017 Act, it's the action you take to prevent the harm
that counts towards compliance.
The new Act is supported by a framework of laws and policies, many
of which you'll hear about today.
But I'm starting at the top of the pyramid that you can see ,the new Act
and the key obligations it imposes.
Now, it looks like there is quite a lot on this next slide, but actually much of it,
many of you will already be familiar with.
Firstly, the white boxes on the left represent your current
key compliance obligations.
On the right, you can see some dark blue and light blue boxes.
The dark blue boxes represent what a roughly equivalent obligations that
largely replaced those in white.
The light blue boxes represent some completely new obligations.
In summary, this shows you that the pollution offences from the 1970
Act will be replaced by the general environmental duty and supported by
new duties to notify EPA of certain pollution incidents and the duty to
clean up after an incident, if it occurs.
The main industrial waste offence has been split into three new waste duties
that assign obligations on you depending on whether you generate industrial
waste, transport it, or receive it.
This supply chain framework will allow. EPA to target where non-compliance
and waste crime arises to support a more preventative approach to waste.
What we call prescribed industrial waste will be known as priority waste, and we'll
create a number of standing obligations around classifying, isolating, and
containing such waste, as well as looking at avoiding disposal of such waste.
These duties will be supported by reporting and permitting requirements
similar to the current requirements.
Finally, the obligations on contaminated land and groundwater has been elevated
into the Act as a duty to minimise risk of harm, supported by duties to notify
of certain types of contamination.
So, that is the Act in a nutshell.
The cornerstone of the new. Act, however, is the general
environmental duty or the GED.
It's the primary way EPA will achieve prevention of harm.
The duty requires you to consider the activities you engage in and understand
the risks of harm that those activities create from both pollution and waste
perspectives and look at how to eliminate or otherwise reduce those risks so
far as is reasonably practicable.
That is a phrase that will be familiar to many.
It's a duty modelled on the OHS Act duties, which have been established
in Victoria for many decades now.
It applies to everyone but carries criminal liability for
business and government, with penalties up to 1.6 million.
Importantly, the duty requires you to minimise risks of harm so far
as this reasonably practicable.
Understanding what is reasonably practicable to meet your
duty is a balancing act.
On one hand, you need to consider how significant the risk of harm
could be from your activities.
On the other hand, you need to consider those risks against the costs
of minimising or eliminating them.
In finding that balance, you need to consider what you know or
reasonably should know about the risks that arise from your activity
and how to control those risks.
What is available to minimise or eliminate those risks, which may include technology,
site practices, and many other controls.
What is suitable for your circumstances, noting that you may need to check that
your risk control measures do not give rise to unforeseen riskier outcomes.
As the risk of harm increases, there is greater knowledge of
options that are suitable and available to reduce the risks.
Then the amount of effort you are expected to allocate to managing
risk increases, meaning that you ensure a proportionate response.
What is known about the risk of harm and controls that are available and suitable
is known as the state of knowledge.
Knowledge on the risks of harm and how to minimise them is crucial to
you meeting your duties and it's something that evolves over time.
Compliance information can come from a range of sources, including
businesses and industry generally, the EPA and other regulators, and
independent organisations like universities and industry associations.
EPA has already published a range of guidance material to help you understand
your obligations and how to achieve compliance to a standard that EPA expects.
Other knowledge sources from business and industry, documents showing you
how to perform activities safely, manuals, safety data, instructions,
and labels, training on equipment use, and guidance from industry bodies.
Although the GED represents the cornerstone of the new Act and the main
way of preventing harm, licencing remains an important part of the legislation.
The one size fits all approach to EPA licencing, however, will be replaced
by three tiers of EPA permissions.
Registrations, which can be easily granted and are suited to low risk activities.
Permits, which will have standardised assessment processes
and are suited to moderate risk activities with low complexity.
Finally, licences to apply customised conditions to manage those complex
activities that need the highest level of regulatory control to
manage their significant risks.
Licences will continue to be required to construct certain plant or equipment or
in the development and modification of processes or systems development licences.
They will also continue to be required for research, development, and demonstration
activities, eg. pilot project licences.
Licences will be subject to reviews at least every five years and will
no longer be granted indefinitely.
There is already a wide suite of information on the new Act available
at our website, epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws.
Our prevention-focused guidance contributes to the state of knowledge
and includes self-assessment tools for business to help you check what
actions you can take to manage risk.
Industry or sector guidance.
This covers common industry-specific hazards and risks and
It also includes a four-step risk management process and information on the
duties framework at the core of the act.
This covers dust, erosion, and sediment, liquid storage and handling, noise,
odour, solid storage and handling, general guidance, for example, how to manage
your environmental risk and working with an environmental consultant.
And guidance on what the EPA will consider it to be reasonably practicable.
We've also been working with industry partners to develop a
small business program pilot and an industry partnership program.
These will roll out over coming months ahead of the new Act's commencement
and relevant links will be provided as part of our post-event package
for all registered attendees.
So, that's the overview of the new Act to introduce the subordinate legislation.
I'm just going to touch on a couple of the questions that have been pre-submitted
before handing over to Jacquie to talk about the subordinate legislation.
So, one of the key questions that has come through both independent
of this process but just through stakeholder engagement more broadly,
essentially, will the new laws ensure that EPA takes a stronger stance on
polluting companies and entities?
EPA has progressively strengthened its stance against polluters over recent
years and will continue to do so very much enabled by the new legislation.
As I've spoken to earlier, the new laws will enable us to intervene
earlier and hold duty holders to account for the establishment of
all reasonably practicable controls to reduce or eliminate risk to
human health and the environment.
Unfortunately, some operators flout the law, and the
consequences are all too familiar.
So, in those circumstances, we will take a no-tolerance approach to
non-compliance, and the new laws bolster our toolkit considerably.
The second question that's come through from a thematic perspective relates
to the enforcement of the GED and its relationship to past standards.
Eg. will past EPA publications, eg. 480 and 960, that include specific
target standards remain within the state of knowledge and be enforceable?
As we've already spoken to, the state of knowledge is core to the
GED, but it evolves over time.
For day one, existing EPA guidance that identifies risks of harm
associated with activities and the way to minimise those risks will
provide a good way to understand what your compliance obligations are.
EPA has already released a wide range of guidance as I've spoken to.
However, over time, that will lose its currency.
So, progressively duty holders will need to continue to inform themselves
of what the state of knowledge is within their given industries.
For example, in the case of publications 480 and 960 that were published in
1994 and 2004 respectively, they've recently been replaced by a new
guide on civil construction, 1834, which replaces both 480 and 960.
This is a good example of how standards and compliance obligations
will evolve as the state of knowledge increases in relation to given risks.
So, those are the two questions that are part of my segment this afternoon.
I will hand over now to Jacquie Stepanoff, director of policy and
regulation, to speak to this proposed subordinate legislation under the
new environment protection Act.
Over to you, Jacquie.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Jacquie Stepanoff, and as Matt mentioned, I'm director of
policy and regulation at EPA Victoria.
In partnership with the department of environment, water, land, and
planning, my area led the development of the subordinate legislation
that we're discussing today.
Before I go on, I'd just like to acknowledge that partnership and
my colleagues from the department who are here with us today.
OK, so thank you for the opportunity to talk to you about the proposed subordinate
legislation that will support Victoria's new environment protection laws.
I just want to say before I get started, I'm reading from notes.
I'm reading from notes because it's really important to me that I give
you the best quality information today and I'm conscious this is going to be
recorded and used for others as well.
So please bear with me if I glance down and up a little bit.
Today, we'll talk briefly about where the subordinate legislation fits within
the new environment protection laws, the process that we went through in
developing the subordinate legislation, including public consultation, and
then we'll talk through the proposed environment reference standard, its
objectives and intent, and the proposed environment protection regulations.
As I talk through the presentation, you'll hear me use the term 'Duty Holder'.
For today's purpose, this term should be taken to include a reference to any
person, business, or undertaking that has an obligation under the new environment
protection laws as those persons will have a duty to comply with the new laws.
OK, we'll begin with a short recap of the new environment protection laws building
on what Matt has just shared, and we'll discuss our approach to developing the
proposed regulations and standards.
So, we saw this slide earlier when Matt discussed the new
environment protection Act.
As you can see with the red circle, development of a range
of subordinate legislation is permitted under the new Act.
Today, we're focusing mostly on the proposed environment protection
regulations which build on the Act by setting out how to fulfil duties
and obligations, and also sets out particular processes that support the Act.
We'll also discuss the environment reference standard, which is a new
instrument that articulates community expectations about the environment.
And we'll discuss briefly determinations and designations in relation to waste
permissions and contaminated environments.
In developing the proposed subordinate legislation, we were
guided by the following principles.
Firstly, the general environmental duty.
The general environmental duty and supporting duties under the new
Act should be the primary controls used to manage risks of harm to
human health and the environment.
Any additional regulations or subordinate instruments should not impede the GED
nor create unnecessary prescription.
That's an important principle.
Proportionality, the proposed subordinate legislation should be proportionate to
the risk of harm to the environment and human health that it seeks to address.
Regulatory burden, where possible and appropriate, the subordinate
legislation should maintain or reduce regulatory burden in Victoria.
Flexibility, where possible, duty holders will be provided with
flexibility regarding how they comply with their obligations.
Consistency and predictability, the subordinate legislation and
particular regulations should be consistent with other policies
and laws to avoid confusion.
And that should be predictable to create a stable regulatory
environment and foster confidence.
And finally, enforceability.
Subordinate legislation should only be made where it's capable of being enforced.
Exposure drafts of the subordinate legislation, which has the environment
protection regulations, the incorporated documents, and the environment
reference standard were released for public comment in September,
2019 for a period of 60 days.
During the public comment period, we received 317 submissions, which raised
more than 2,200 issues for consideration.
The issues that were raised largely focused on waste, land, and contaminated
environments, noise, and onsite wastewater management systems.
While most submissions were from metropolitan areas, regional Victoria
was well-represented and accounted for a quarter of all submissions.
The majority of submissions were from individuals and business owners.
Around 1/3 of the issues raised related to concerns that the proposed
regulations wouldn't sufficiently protect human health or the environment,
often seeking to strengthen or tighten the regulations or standards.
And around 20% raised concerns regarded the costs to be incurred
from complying with the regulations.
These tended to seek relaxation of standards or narrow the
coverage of the regulations.
Around 1/4 of the issues raised resulted in a recommendation to the
Minister for substantive change to the proposed regulations and ERS.
This was largely because more than 1/2 of all the issues raised
actually didn't relate to the design of the regulatory framework.
They related more to requests for guidance, further information, or
they offered comment on how EPA should implement the new framework.
Any new or amended regulatory proposals emerging from the consultation
were assessed against good practice principles to ensure the subordinate
legislation proportionately addressed the risk of harm to human health and
the environment wherever possible and minimise regulatory burden.
In the normal course of events following consultation, final
regulations and standards would simply have been made as legislation.
However, given the deferral of the commencement of the new Act to 2021,
the Victorian government has taken the innovative step of releasing proposed
final versions of the environment protection regulations and environment
reference standard to support duty holder and peer-regulated readiness
for the commencement of our new environment protection legislation.
These proposed final regulations and. ERS are now available on EPA's website
together with the final response to public comment report, which summarises the
government's response to the key issues raised during the public comment period.
That report summarises the key changes made and explains why
other changes have not been made.
We're not seeking further feedback on the proposed final regulations
as they represent the endorsed position of the Victorian government.
This release of the proposed final is an important milestone that will
provide you with more time to become familiar with the detail of the new
subordinate legislation and prepare for the commencement of the new environment
protection legislation in July, 2021.
OK, I'm not going to dive into a bit of detail.
And I'm going to start with an overview of the instrument that you may be the
most unfamiliar with, the proposed environment reference standard.
So, the ERS is a new instrument under the new Act.
The 2016 inquiry into the EPA found that the state environment protection
policies or SEPPs as you might call them under the 1970 Act were in
many instances unclear and difficult for decision-makers to apply.
It also found that they were difficult to update in line with evolving
scientific and technical understanding.
The inquiry recommended phasing out. SEPPs and waste management policies
with their component parts to be split into new fit-for-purpose instruments.
One of these instruments is the ERS.
In the new framework, the ERS is a reference tool that is used to
assess and report on environmental conditions in Australia.
Importantly, the ERS is not a compliance standard.
I always think the trick is in the name, 'environment reference standard'.
It's there for reference purposes.
This means it does not create any obligations on duty holders and it
does not define fixed environmental standards to be enforced.
But it does have a role in decision-making as the Act requires that it either
must or may be considered when making some decisions, for example in certain
ministerial decisions in EPA's assessment of applications for development,
operating and pilot project licences and in the assessment of planning
permit applications where appropriate.
The ERS is made up of environmental values, which are the things
in the environment Victorians care about and want to protect.
For example, water that's safe for swimming.
It also has indicators and objectives for measuring whether these environmental
values are being achieved or maintained.
It also has environmental values, indicators and objectives for
ambient air, water, ambient sound, and land environments.
For ambient air, the proposed. ERS contains standards transposed
from SEPP ambient air quality.
It also contains a new qualitative objective for odour, which is a
significant issue of community concern.
For ambient sound, the proposed ERS transposes the majority of beneficial
uses from SEPP N1 and SEPP N2 and introduces some new environmental
values for child learning and development and human tranquillity
and enjoyment in natural areas.
For land, the proposed ERS contains standards from SEPP, prevention and
management of contaminated land, with some updates to improve clarity.
And for water, the proposed ERS contains standards from the recently reviewed
SEPP Waters with only minor changes.
Due to the tight timeframes in which the proposed ERS was developed,
we did not undertake an extensive review of new scientific evidence.
Apart from ambient sound standards, most of the indicators and objectives have been
chosen from amongst existing standards.
A more thorough review and gap analysis relating to standards may form part
of EPA's future strategy for the ERS.
We made some key changes to the. ERS in response to public comment.
Recognising Traditional Owners in the. ERS preamble, changing the name of
the noise standards to the ambient sound standards to better reflect
the aspects of the environment that are the subject of the standards.
Adding another new environmental value called musical entertainment
to the ambient sound standards to recognise community demand for
musical entertainment and a current policy objective under the SEPPs.
Clarifying the environmental values for water do not apply to water
in constructed landfill cells, removing any ambiguity of intent.
OK, I'll now provide a summary of the proposed regulations for
some specific subject areas.
Firstly, I'll talk about the proposed waste regulations.
Acknowledging that Matt has already given us an introduction to the
new Act, I do just want to quickly touch on the new Act and what it
covers of relevance to the regs here.
The Waste duties under the new. Act cover the unique risks and
complexities of waste as it moves through the waste management chain.
The duties apply to people who generate, transport, or receive industrial waste.
These duties are called the industrial waste and priority waste duties.
OK, to the regulations.
To support the new Act, the proposed waste regulations create
a framework on how to comply with the duty set out under the Act.
Together, the waste duties and the proposed regulations are intended to
manage risks to human health and the environment and to support and encourage
waste reuse and resource recovery.
The proposed regulations replace the current and inflexible prescribed
industrial waste controls with obligations that will be tailored
to the hazard and the potential for mismanagement of specific wastes.
They will resolve grey areas in the current regulations by taking a
comprehensive no-gaps approach, ensuring that clear regulatory obligations exist
for all waste management activities.
The proposed regulations support compliance with the industrial waste
duties through a three-step process.
And you can see that on the slide in front of you.
Industrial waste must be properly identified and classified so it's
clear what duties apply to the waste and how it must be managed.
Industrial waste must be safely contained during transportation,
and some waste types have further containment and isolation requirements.
Some wastes also have a transaction control where every time they
change hands, EPA must be informed.
EPA is developing a new electronic waste tracker tool to support this duty.
I should just put across a promotion here to say that you can find out more
about EPA's new waste tracking system at another upcoming webinar on 23, February.
And I think registration is available through our website.
And thirdly, lawful place.
Industrial waste must only go somewhere with lawful authority to receive it.
I'm just going to dig into each of those three now for a little while.
Under the new Act, the definitions of waste and industrial waste are
taken to mean any waste arising from commercial, industrial, or trade
activities, or from laboratories.
Some industrial waste will be prescribed as priority and/or
reportable priority wastes.
These will have specific duties attached to them which allow additional management
and transportation controls to be applied.
Depending on the classification as either an industrial, priority, or a portable
priority waste, there are less or more obligations to control the risk of harm.
For example, you'll see on the slide here that for portable priority wastes,
you'll have the same obligations as those applying to industrial
and priority waste, as well as some additional obligations like the
waste tracking I mentioned earlier.
Just looking at each classification in more detail, industrial waste.
Industrial waste is the broad category covering all waste.
This includes household waste once it is gathered at a waste facility such
as a transfer station or a landfill.
Some example industrial waste types inert construction and demolition waste,
comingled recycling, and as I said, municipal waste once it's been collected.
Next up, priority waste is industrial waste which carries additional
requirements due to its typically hazardous properties or because
it's prone to mismanagement or in some cases for facilitating waste
reduction and resource recovery.
The Act outlines additional duties and requirements for
managing these kinds of waste.
And some examples are processed food waste, e-waste, liquid organic waste,
bio solids, shredder floc, and tyres.
And reportable priority waste.
It's a subset of priority waste and it carries the highest level of requirements.
It's reserved for waste types with the highest hazard levels
or capacity for mismanagement.
Controls for these wastes include restricting transportation to permitted
vehicles and mandatory reporting to. EPA each time the waste changes hands.
Example waste types here are pesticides, solvents, asbestos,
and grease trap wastes.
The new framework also aligns with other regulations.
Reportable priority waste generally includes substances that are also
covered by dangerous goods legislation.
And priority waste includes some wastes that are classified
as hazardous substances.
The new streamlined classification system introduces, I think quite
helpfully, pre-classified lists of common waste types and hazards, leaving
a much smaller group of wastes that will require sampling and analysis.
We are hopeful that this will create a much more efficient environment.
Waste will be identified by a system into jurisdictionally used waste codes.
This is intended to lessen waste misclassification and reduce the
compliance burden on industry.
Also, the system will also introduce mirror waste codes to cover some
waste types like drilling muds that are hazardous only when
they're contaminated but might also present in an uncontaminated form.
Again, just trying to make some changes to align with hazard.
OK, I'll just briefly talk through the proposed streamline classification
system for contaminated soils, which proposes to introduce,
first of all, and importantly for those of you interested in this aspect of the regs,
an incorporated document waste, disposal categories, characteristics,
That incorporated documents sets out waste disposal categories.
Category A, B, C, or D as the slide shows.
The regulations also introduce a new category D for low-level contaminated
soils, a new category of asbestos contaminated only soil, and a requirement
for generators and receivers of fill material soils below category D there on
the slide to hold a declaration of use.
Sorry, soil must be categorised as either A, B, C or D,
Soil containing asbestos only, or fill material.
Categories A, B, and C are similar to the existing categories in the current
prescribed industrial waste framework.
Category D, as I said, is new.
It's intended to support limited containment options within infrastructure
projects and safely divert these materials from hazardous waste landfills.
Category D would cover contaminated soils within the lower half of the
current category C soils, but still sits above this threshold for fill material.
Soils containing asbestos only.
This is as, it sounds, soil where the only contaminant is asbestos.
It cannot be used for limited containment like category D, but it doesn't
have to go to a category C landfill.
It can go to a landfill permitted to accept asbestos.
Asbestos contaminated soil only attracts a $30 levy, which is one of the
reasons it has its own category here.
Landfill material, which is soil which is safe for direct application to land.
The Act requires that industrial waste may only be received somewhere that
has lawful authority to receive it.
This is known as a lawful place.
The proposed regulations set out the ways of meeting lawful place according
to risks of managing specific sites.
There are several ways a receiver can meet the lawful place requirement.
They are through permissions, permission exemptions, emergency authorisations,
determinations, and declarations of use for lower hazard industrial wastes.
I'll just step out a little more detail on these mechanisms across
the next section of my presentation.
Let's start with the mechanism suited to your lowest risk.
The proposed regulations set out the requirements for declaration of
use or a DoU, which enables industry to meet lawful place requirements
without needing a permission.
A DoU is an agreement for how a specific industrial waste or waste-derived
material can be directly used.
It describes the waste, it assesses its risk, and it identifies legitimate uses.
The DoU will enable industry to meet the lawful place duty without the
need to apply for permission, manage the risks of harms easily, and it
encourages information sharing in the waste reuse and recovery market.
There are two kinds of DoU available under the proposed regulations.
The first one is an industry-set DoU, where it's a declaration made by the
generator or the producer of materials.
This is a self-assessed agreement between a producer and a
receiver for low-risk wastes.
It supports innovation by not requiring EPA to set a standard.
It leverages the GED by setting a state of knowledge relating to any latent harms
and describing handling requirements.
It can be made for a wide range of uses.
It must address the properties and risks associated with using the material.
Importantly, it's self-declared and it must be accepted by
the receiver as fit for use.
And it's fully flexible to individual situations, and we hope supportive
of innovation in resource recovery.
The second kind of DoU is an EPA set standards DoU.
That's where the EPA might decide to issue a DoU.
It's an agreement where EPA specifies through a determination how to manage
certain kinds of low risk marginal wastes.
It only requires the generator or the producer to declare against
the published declaration.
It ensures that the use of waste is fit for purpose, and it provides an easy
way to declare a waste fit for use.
We think they're most useful where there's a known state of knowledge and
limited alternatives such as manures.
We made some key changes to the proposed final regulations
in response to public comment.
So, new information received through the consultation provided a better
understanding of current industry practices and identified some
opportunities to improve the DoU tool and better support a circular economy.
The changes that have arisen from that consultation include reducing the amount
of information required of waste producers and providers in a DoU, just requiring now
only enough information to enable consent.
Removing the 60-day limit for temporary storage of fill material under a DoU,
and clarifying that fill material generated and re-used within the same
cadastral boundary does not need a DoU.
And use determinations in some instances to address situations rather than a DoU.
And I'll discuss determinations on my next slide, which is here.
Consultation on the waste regulations also triggered the development of a small suite
of other instruments called determinations and designations, which we considered were
the best way to address issues raised.
Submissions from across industry, including composting, agriculture,
construction, and development supported the general intent of the DoU to
allow industry to have more control over its own regulatory arrangements.
But some submissions suggested that the burden of completing a DoU would increase
administrative load and place some operational constraints on businesses
seeking to use waste for other purposes.
Most importantly, where those materials were common, used regularly and
with a high volume of transaction, with a large range of parties.
So, an example might be aggregates.
In those cases, submissions recommended that there should be just set
standards issued by EPA to avoid the need for drawing up new paperwork
and exchanging it, and that those who generate and use their own waste
onsite should not require a DoU.
So, as a result of that feedback, EPA did some further analysis and identified
several common low risk waste types for which a determination could be developed
as an alternative legal pathway for ways to leave their framework instead of a DoU.
So, what's a determination?
Determinations are instruments made by the EPA.
I think of them as sitting under the regs.
They set required specifications for the lawful deposit, transport,
and receipt of industrial waste subject to conditions or limitations.
This means that the person, place, or premises will be authorised to
receive the specified industrial waste, ensuring the waste duties are met by all
parties along the waste supply chain.
Unlike a DoU, a determination will allow waste to be deposited and
received without the need for a written declaration, providing the specifications
of the determination are met.
So, it will set conditions.
EPA is developing a range of waste related determinations.
Examples are determinations to allow the lawful receipt and storage of
reportable priority waste to council transfer stations, determination to set
out minimum standards or specifications for processed organic waste, including
testing and sampling requirements and quality of output to support unrestricted
reuse, and a determination to allow for the use and management of aggregate
material in an unrestricted manner.
As part of the government's recycling markets acceleration program, EPA will
be consulting on four of the proposed determinations through Engage Victoria.
And it's my understanding a discussion paper that gives you a lot more detail on
this topic will be available within the next week on Engage Vic, so keep your eyes
out if you're interested in this area.
Designations, they're a legal instrument that allow the
reclassification of waste types.
They enable EPA to classify waste, for example, category A, B, C,
or D, or to address the mixing, blending, or diluting of waste.
They also allow EPA to specify how that waste must be transported,
received, and disposed of.
Some of you may have been involved with waste classifications
under the current system.
It's fair to think of designations as being the inheritor of that.
EPA is developing some designations, for example, to make lawful the
commercial transport of reportable priority waste as part of the ChemClear
product stewardship scheme and the. Return Unwanted Medicines Program.
We'll leave waste now, and I'd like to talk to you a little bit about
the new permissioning framework.
OK, so picking up from where. Matt left off, as you would have
seen the new Act introduces a three-tiered permissions framework of
licences, permits and registration.
And as Matt said, this is a change from the current permissions framework,
which finally includes licences.
The proposed regulations assign prescribed activities to their
appropriate tier in the permissions framework based on the level of risk
that they pose, their complexity, and the need for greater oversight.
And you can find this detail in schedule one of the regulations, which I think
is an important resource for those of you who are interested as to how various
businesses might fit into the framework.
Several key principles informed our proposed permissions cohort for day one.
When I say day one, I'm referring to the commencement of the EPA Act.
Firstly, minimising unnecessary change and disruption for permission
holders, both new and existing, in transitioning to the new framework.
If your activity requires a licence under the current framework, then
it will almost certainly require a licence under the new framework.
Ensuring coverage of existing permission to activities before
seeking to expand to new activities.
Giving the GED time to demonstrate its effectiveness, remembering
those principles we used in drafting this subordinate legislation.
Using permissions, especially low cost and low burden tools like
registrations, to provide lawful place for small waste businesses.
I'll just go through each tier briefly.
Licences will continue to be reserved for the highest risk and complexity
activities, which require customised. EPA assessments and unique conditions.
Those activities that are currently subject to a licence under the
existing framework will transition directly across to new licences
under the new proposed regulations.
In addition, a new licence activity has been added for large waste
and resource recovery facilities in recognition of the significant
stockpile and fire risk posed by large sites where combustible, recyclable
waste is inappropriately stored.
Permits are targeted at moderate risk activities or activities which
are high risk, but low complexity.
These are lower cost and lower burden tools compared to
licences with the application of mostly standardised conditions.
The day one permit tier will be used to consolidate many existing other
approvals and exemptions from other parts of the current framework where
EPA assessment is still required.
For example, industrial waste resource guidelines, approvals
and instruments included in SEPPs.
A small number of new activities will also be included in the permit
tier, including medium-sized waste and resource recovery activities.
And then to registrations.
Registrations are simple automatically generated permissions.
I just want to pause on that.
They are automatically generated, targeted to the lowest risk
activities within the framework.
They have standardised conditions across activity types.
The primary function of registrations in the day one regulations will be to
provide a mechanism for the lawful receipt of waste for smaller waste businesses.
Registrations will also apply to some other new activities such as dry cleaning
and including some rehoused existing approvals and exemptions such as waste
transports and temporary asbestos storage.
The proposed final regulations set out some transitional provisions
for duty holders who need to apply for new permissions.
So, for large to medium waste and resource recovery facilities activities,
there'll be a three-month period in which to apply for a licence or permit.
And for all other new activities, there'll be a six-month period to apply
for a required permit or registration.
We made a few changes in response to public feedback as well in this area.
We broadened the definition of project site in relation to the
permit category for containment of category D waste, soil on site.
This responded to the issue raised by industry that the definition was too
restrictive for large scale public infrastructure projects, where a project
covered multiple parcels of land.
We removed the proposed permit requirement for liquid organic waste.
This will instead be managed by determination or declaration of use.
And we've added a new registration activity for waste acid sulphate
soils for treatment or amelioration.
I mentioned determinations earlier as another instrument
available under the new framework.
The new Act allows EPA to create a kind of a let-out for permissions in specific
circumstances where the burden associated with the permission has been deemed
to be disproportionate to the risk.
These determinations include requirements which a duty holder
must be able to meet to be eligible.
A small number of these are planned to work alongside the regulations at day one.
If a duty holder complies with the requirements of the determination,
they may not have to hold a permission, or they may hold a lesser permission.
We're developing a few of these, including for example, a determination setting
out where specific modification works to sewage treatment plants operated
by water corporations do not trigger a development licence requirement,
and mostly smaller works to improve environmental performance or emergency
preparedness are covered there.
Some existing general exemptions have been moved from the regulations to
determinations where appropriate, including exemptions for smaller
discharges to atmosphere, which can meet the requirements
set out in the determination.
At this point, I believe I'm handing over to Stephen Gottfried to pick
up from me to go forward on with the rest of the presentation.
I think what we might do with questions, if that's OK, is we'll wait till
the end and capture them altogether just so we make sure we make a
maximum amount of time for questions.
So, if we can move on to Stephen's presentation, that'd be fantastic.
Thanks. Jackie, and hi everyone.
As Jacquie mentioned, I'm going to cover some other key aspects
of the proposed final subordinate legislation, starting with on-site
wastewater management systems.
And this includes septic tank systems.
Under the proposed final regulations, councils will continue to administer
permits for the construction, installation, or alteration of an onsite
wastewater management system with a capacity of up to 5,000 litres on any day.
The regulations provide criteria for councils to consider when
assessing permit applications.
They also set out the circumstances when a permit must be refused.
Councils will be able to take enforcement action for failure to
obtain one of these permits or for breach of the permit conditions.
In response to public comment, the proposed final regulations now include
new requirements for persons in management or control of land with an
onsite wastewater management system.
These requirements, which are in Part 5.7 of the regulations will apply
to all operating systems, including legacy systems that did not require
a permit under the environment protection Act when they were put in.
The requirements in the proposed final regulations include an obligation
to take reasonable steps to maintain the system in good working order.
A duty to keep maintenance records, a requirement to respond to problems,
and from mid-2022, a requirement to notify local government of a system
failure, and what's being done to fix it.
Local government offices will in some situations be able to order
a person to undertake maintenance.
There are offences in the regulations for failure to meet these requirements, which
local governments will be able to enforce.
Several other changes have been made in response to public comment.
The fees in the final regulations relating to these permits reflect new
data provided by local government and will better provide for cost recovery.
Councils will also be able to reduce or waive a fee if they
consider it reasonable to do so.
The regulations have also been changed so that local government will no longer be
required to submit annual returns to EPA.
Now let's look at the proposed environment protection regulations
relating to contaminated environments,
but we'll start by recapping the duties that are in the Act.
This slide shows how the contaminated land framework is structured
across the Act and the regulations.
Reforms to the framework will put the onus on those in management
or control of contaminated land to ensure the risks posed by the
contamination are appropriately managed.
The Act, as shown on the slide, introduces two duties for contaminated
land that may apply where concentrations of a waste or chemical substance
are above background level.
And they create a risk of harm to human health or the environment.
Firstly, the duty to manage contaminated land, which is Section 39.
It establishes a risk-based proportionate obligation on
those in management or control of contaminated land to manage its risks.
And secondly, the duty to notify at Section 40.
It will require those in management or control of contaminated land
to notify EPA of the contamination in various circumstances.
Both of these duties apply to existing contaminated sites.
The Act at Section 36 defines background level.
It is either a level specified in or determined under the regulations or
the environment reference standard or the naturally occurring level
of contaminants, which can vary across different parts of Victoria.
By working out the background level, duty holders will be able
to establish if the duty to manage and the duty to notify apply.
The Act also introduces a new. Environmental management environmental
audit system that allows for a scaled rather than one size fits all audit.
This will be supported by a quicker and lower cost land
contamination assessment called the preliminary risk screen assessment.
The Act also introduces site management orders and better environment plans,
which will be able to support ongoing longer-term management and compliance
in relation to contaminated land.
The regulations support and clarify the two duties that are in the Act, the
duty to manage and the duty to notify.
They set out how to comply with the duty to manage, specifically in
relation to non-aqueous phase liquids or NAPL as shown on the screen there.
More on the regulations now.
The regulations enable EPA to make a determination that sets out how to
establish what's called an alternative background level of contamination.
This process acknowledges that background levels of waste and chemical
substances vary across the state.
And in some cases, a process is appropriate to determine an
alternative background level.
Where the concentration of the waste or chemical substance is below
this level, the duty to manage and the duty to notify will not apply.
The regulations also support and clarify the contaminated land duties
in the Act by prescribing circumstances that are notifiable contamination.
They also prescribed circumstances that are exempt from the duty to notify.
And the key examples here are where a site is already subject
to a relevant EPA notice.
Or in some circumstances, where a certificate or statement of
environmental audit has been issued.
The regulations also set out additional matters which must be included when
notifying EPA of contamination.
And as mentioned before, the regulations set out clean-up obligations under the
duty to manage where a non-aqueous phase liquid is present in soil or groundwater.
So, overall the regulations provide boundaries around the duty to
manage and the duty to notify.
And just to highlight one change that you will see in the proposed final
regulations relating to the duty to notify, submissions on the initial draft
regulations argued that the notification requirements were not always risk-based.
And after considering feedback, the notification requirements for groundwater
contamination have been changed to limit notification to when the groundwater may
be used for specific activities such as drinking, stock watering, or irrigation.
Or where it discharges surface water.
That's at regulation ten.
Moving on to the proposed contaminated land determination.
As mentioned, the regulations enable. EPA to make a determination that
specifies a background level or a process for deriving a background level
for a chemical substance or waste.
And where this is done, it displaces the application of the
naturally occurring concentration.
Such a determination can be general or specific and can apply in a
single location or several locations.
The EPA is currently developing such a determination.
It will set out a method for determining background levels where
ambient contamination is present.
The EPA will be seeking feedback on this proposed methodology for deriving
A consultation paper will be published on. Engage Vic later this month with comments
sought on it, this month and next.
We'll now briefly look at the proposed final litter regulations.
So, the litter offences in the current 1970 Act that were not included in
the new environment protection Act are instead included in the proposed
final regulations, but in a more streamlined and modernised manner.
These offences will be enforceable by. EPA and by other litter enforcement
agencies, including local councils,. Victoria police, and Parks Victoria.
Following public consultation, a minor change was made to the regulation
relating to litter from a moving vehicle.
This offence now won't apply where a person has been instructed to move the
vehicle by an emergency services officer.
We'll now have a look at the proposed air framework.
The proposed air regulations, which are in part 5.2, will not significantly
alter the obligations of duty holders.
Instead they mainly aim to provide certainty on how to meet the general
environmental duty for specific types of risks to human health and the environment.
So, the proposed final regulations relating to air cover class three
substances, solid fuel haters, ozone-depleting substances,
vehicle emissions, and national pollutant inventory requirements.
Finally, a reminder that as we discussed earlier, the proposed
environment reference standard contains reference standards transposed
from SEPP ambient air quality.
And it also includes a new qualitative objective for odour.
Moving on to the water regulations.
The core elements of the water framework largely reflect the policy positions of
SEPP orders, which was made in late 2018.
So, starting with the Act, the general environmental duty and other powers
under the environment protection Act will address a significant portion of
the risks of harm relating to water.
The proposed regulations about water, which are in part 5.4, cover the
discharge of waste from vessels, special water supply catchments,
the cleanup of non-aqueous phase liquids, and the discharge or deposit
of waste to an aquifer, which will require an EPA permit and only be
allowed in specific circumstances.
The proposed transitional regulations will save some clauses
of SEPP waters for two years from commencement of the new framework.
During this time, EPA and the department of environment will engage with relevant
stakeholders on how these clauses should transition into the new framework.
Finally, as a reminder, the ERS, environment reference standard discussed
earlier, contains environmental quality indicators and objectives that were in
SEPP Waters with some minor changes.
The noise framework.
The core elements in the new noise framework of the new Act, the noise
regulations, the noise protocol, and the environment reference standard.
The introduction of the general environmental duty will change the
focus of compliance and enforcement by allowing the consideration of
risks from any noise source, not just those that are specifically regulated.
The Act also now allows any source of noise to be assessed as unreasonable.
So, while the general environmental duty requires the risks of harm from noise
to be minimised as far as reasonably practicable, a residual risk of
unreasonable noise can still remain.
And because of this, a significant amount of regulation will be in
place to support the assessment of unreasonable noise or aggravated noise.
Looking at the regulations.
They largely mirror the requirements of SEPP N1 and N2.
They provide a framework for defining unreasonable noise and aggravated noise.
And we'll cover that in more detail shortly.
The noise protocol supports the regulations and will be
incorporated into the regulations.
It contains the mandatory method for assessing and measuring noise in relation
to commercial, industrial, and trade premises and entertainment venues.
And there's the ERS.
As mentioned previously, the beneficial uses in the SEPPs have been
repurposed to provide the basis for ambient sound reference standards in
the environment reference standard,
along with newly developed indicators and objectives.
And this is a first for Victoria.
They describe the ambient sound environment that supports desirable
outcomes, such as sleep in the night and child learning and development
for a range of different land use settings.
This includes highly urbanised, suburban, and rural areas, as well
as natural environments where ambient noise can affect the environment's
restorative value on human health.
Now, for some more details on the regulations about
noise, which are in part 5.3.
For residential premises, the proposed regulations will, as with the current
residential noise regulations, deem noise from specific items at prohibited
times to be unreasonable noise if it can be heard in a habitable room
of another residential premises.
So, for example, a lawn mower before 9AM on a weekend.
They also prescribe when noise from a residential premise
may be aggravated noise.
The regulations also clarify that noise from a residential premise can
be unreasonable, whether or not the item is prescribed or noise occurs
outside prohibited times, which is consistent with the current 1970 Act.
For commercial industrial and trade premises, the proposed regulations
set out how noise is determined to be unreasonable or aggravated.
They also set out new noise-sensitive areas for the
purpose of setting noise limits.
And these are childcare centres, kindergartens, primary and secondary
schools, as well as tourist establishments, caravan parks, and camping
grounds in defined rural areas only.
The regulations also define the level of noise at which noise
is deemed to be aggravated.
They set a 55-decibel limit on noise from industrial, trade, and commercial
premises at night in Victoria.
They include frequency spectrum as a specific factor in determining
where the noise is unreasonable.
And they include obligations for regional Victoria that were
previously housed in guidance.
The regulations also align the boundary for application of noise
controls with the urban growth boundary identified in planning schemes.
They make the Saturday evening period the same as from Monday to
Friday when calculating noise limits.
There will still be a mechanism to allow for exemptions from the
applications of noise limits.
And the measurement methodologies, how limits are calculated for major urban
and rural areas, will remain the same.
So, the regulations cover a lot.
In response to public comments, two key changes have been made
to the noise regulations relating to noise sensitive areas.
The obligation to not exceed noise limits for childcare centres, kindergartens,
primary and secondary schools, will only apply when those sites are operating.
That is during their normal operating hours.
And in relation to included rural areas, these will not be noise
sensitive areas when an outdoor event or venue is in operation.
Finally, on noise, noise from wind energy facilities.
The EPA will have a central role in the regulation of wind farm noise as it
relates to the environment protection Act.
The general environmental duty will place a positive obligation
on operators of wind energy facilities to demonstrate compliance.
The unreasonable noise provisions will also apply to noise from these facilities.
Proposed regulations and a regulatory impact statement relating to noise
from wind energy facilities are now available on the Engage Vic website
for public comment until 28, February.
Turning to fees.
Prescribed fees are set out in the regulations in chapter eight.
The fee rates were developed where appropriate using the principle of cost
recovery as required by the Victorian government's treasury guidelines.
Compared to current fees, some fees will remain unchanged while
others will increase or decrease.
There are also some new fees for existing types of EPA assessments.
So, for example, assessing an application for a development licence exemption
and for EPA assessments relating to new instruments in the new Act.
So, for example, for assessing a proposed better environment plan.
There are a couple of other key changes to note.
Firstly, some fees are variable and will require EPA to track how
many hours its assessment takes.
And secondly, there will no longer be an annual fee discount
for accredited licence holders.
In response to public consultation, a small number of fees were adjusted
to better reflect cost recovery.
But no major changes have been made to EPA fees compared to the first
exposure draft of the regulations.
We'll now talk through financial assurances.
Financial assurances are required in different situations so
that if a cleanup is required, appropriate funds are available.
Under the new Act and regulations, there were some key changes to
the financial assurance regime.
Under the new Act, a financial assurance may be required by EPA as a
condition of an environmental action notice or a site management order.
In relation to permissions, under the current framework, the
current regulations, the scheduled premises regulations state that
a financial assurance must be provided by all operators of
certain types of scheduled premises.
Under the new framework, there's a more flexible approach.
The new regulations set up the permission activities where a
financial assurance may be required.
There will be an additional case-by-case assessment by EPA to determine whether a
financial assurance is required given the specifics of each applicant's situation.
The proposed final regulations set up prescribed risk assessment criteria
which EPA must take into account when performing this case-by-case assessment.
Each application to conduct the prescribed permission activity will be assessed
against these criteria to determine if a financial assurance is required.
Under the new regulations, large and medium-scale waste and resource
recovery facilities will newly require an EPA licence or permit.
And operators of these facilities may also require a financial assurance as
a condition of their licence or permit.
The EPA has recently been consulting with the sector on the proposed method
for calculating financial assurances for waste and resource recovery facilities.
The EPA is now considering the comments we've received and we'll
respond to the matters raised.
EPA's method for calculating financial assurance amounts will be published in
the Victorian Government gazette in June.
Now, it's back to Jacquie.
So, next steps.
What happens now?
The proposed final regulations and the. ERS need to be formally made into law by
the Governor in Council, which will happen once the EP Act is proclaimed to commence.
As I mentioned earlier, the proposed final regulations and ERS are available
on EPA's website and are there to support duty holder and peer regulator
readiness for the commencement of our new environment protection legislation.
The proposed final versions incorporate changes made in response
to feedback from consultation.
And you saw across the slides little breakout boxes and speaking bubbles that
indicated some highlights of where changes were made to respond to issues raised.
At this stage, just to reiterate the message we began with, government
is not seeking further feedback on the proposed final legislation
as they represent the endorsed position of the Victorian government.
As we've mentioned throughout this presentation, EPA is progressing work
on determinations and designations, which pick up some of the issues
raised in consultation, or just are simply designed to complement
the regulations and standards.
And there are opportunities for community and industry to engage in the development
of these legislative instruments.
We will continue to work through the EPA industry reference groups to keep everyone
updated and involved with this process.
We're also continuing to deliver our major work program of communication and
educational material that will clarify legislative and regulatory requirements,
including on the subordinate legislation.
Our engagement is focused on working with stakeholders to prepare for 1 July, 2021
and ensure that there is readiness to operate under the new legislation.
Now, we're now going to answer some questions that were submitted to us
through the event registration process.
And a big thanks to all of you that popped your questions in advance.
It gave us the opportunity to put our heads around them and also gave the team
some time to sift through the questions that have been popped up live and start
to put some answers around a few of those.
I'll point out again that as Matt said, these questions are themed.
We picked a couple that seem to be quite a frequent topic of interest.
First one we'll go to is relating to the permissioning framework.
What warrants a business needing a registration, some of you asked.
And some of you asked a similar question, which is we currently
have unlicensed operations.
How will we know if permits or registrations are applicable
to us as business owners?
So, the new permissions framework as you know, includes two new
tiers of commission in addition to licences, permits and registrations.
The introduction of the permit and the registration tiers mean that a range of
new duty holders will require permission who did not previously require one.
This may include situations where an exemption under the current framework
has been rehoused as a permit or a registration or a new activity has been
newly brought into the permission scheme.
So, to work out if your business needs to obtain a licence, permit or registration,
duty holders should review schedule one of the proposed final regulations.
The schedule outlines all the activities which will need a permission
from the EPA as well as the type of permission that is required.
In addition, regulations 37 to 42 of the proposed final regulations
outline a limited number of prescribed exemptions, though these primarily relate
to licenced activities at this point.
So, as I flagged earlier, I think schedule one is a really important
place to go to to find out if your business requires a permission.
EPA's website also has some useful information for businesses who want to
better understand the permission scheme with some kind of general headings that
will point you towards the potential for whether you need a permission or not,
and also some information to help understand obligations
under the new legislation.
If you're still unsure of whether or not your business requires a
permission after having had a look at the regs in the website, you
can contact EPA by phone or email.
And I should point out that a whole bunch of details on how to do that will be
provided at the end of this presentation.
The next question we picked out, we picked out 'cause we thought
it was of particular interest for those of you in a regional area.
How does the new legislation deal with historical contamination?
And will there be confirmation of background levels for
arsenic in the Bendigo region?
So, as you know, the new Act introduces contaminated land duties with
special provisions to allow for the consideration of background levels.
The EPA is aware of the challenges in the Bendigo region relating to arsenic,
and we'll be providing targeted guidance on how to interpret arsenic levels in
the Bendigo region for 1 July, 2021.
Further work to understand the nature and extent and arsenic in the Bendigo
region will continue beyond 1 July, 2021.
I'll just hand over to Stephen at this point to answer another couple of the
questions or themed question areas that were submitted ahead of the event.
Over to you, Stephen.
Thanks very much, Jacquie.
So, two further pre-submitted questions
to walk through.
The first one is, will the general environmental duty apply
to legacy waste water systems?
Those without permits?
So, in short, yes.
The general environmental duty will require a person in management or
control of an onsite waste water management system, including a
legacy system, to take all reasonably practicable steps to minimise the risks
of harm from operating the system.
So, for example, if a system discharges untreated wastewater offsite and into
a storm water drainage system, then an authorised officer appointed by council
under a delegation by EPA may decide there are grounds for issuing a remedial notice,
an improvement notice under the new Act.
Just to add to that, as I touched on in the presentation,
as well as the general environmental duty, direct regulations in part 5.7 will also
apply to the maintenance and operation of onsite wastewater management systems.
And they'll apply to all onsite waste water management systems, including
older ones that were put in before an installation permit was required.
Moving to quite a different question, which was pre submitted,
relating to contaminated land.
Can EPA provide examples of the definition of Cat D waste soils able
to be retained on a project site?
So, Cat D soils or Cat D waste soils are defined in
Schedule Six of the regulations.
And Schedule Six in turn points to EPA's Publication Number 1828,
which Jacquie mentioned earlier.
It's called waste disposal categories, characteristics, and thresholds.
Category D forms the lower range of the current category C, allowing for
a restricted use of waste soil where no further damage to land will occur.
The containment of Cat D can be well-suited to, for example,
large precinct-style developments such as shopping centres or
large remediation projects
or former industrial sites spanning multiple property parcels.
So, under the regulations, an EPA permit will be required to contain
category D waste soil on a project site.
This permission activity, which is A17 in schedule one,
will be assessed by EPA, subject to assessment by EPA.
The category D waste soil has to have been generated on the project site.
EPA will specify the land, that is the project site, in the permit document.
But it has to be either a single area of land which is identified in a document as
part of an amendment to a planning scheme under the planning and environment act.
Or land that relates to public works within the meaning of
the environment effects Act.
So, here's an example of where such a permit might be sought.
Imagine soil is excavated as part of development works to convert
industrial land to another use.
In some cases, the land being developed will be a series of
adjoining property parcels that are identified as a single area as part
of a planning scheme amendment.
Where the soil is identified as Cat D, the duty holder will be able to apply
to EPA for an A17 permit to contain the soil elsewhere on the project site.
Without this permit, the Cat D soil will need to be sent to a facility
that is licenced by EPA to treat or dispose of the Cat D soil.
And just quickly, a second example of how the permit might apply.
You can imagine Cat D soil may be excavated as part of
level-crossing removal works.
The duty holder might wish to apply to. EPA for an A17 permit to contain the
Cat D soil elsewhere on their project site.
If EPA believes it's appropriate,. EPA may specify in a permit that the
project site includes, say two level crossings, two level crossing sites,
and for example, a dedicated depot.
If EPA approves the permit application, the Cat D soil removed from the level
crossings will be able to be contained at the depot so long as the duty holder
complies with the conditions in the permit and with any further requirements that
may apply under the planning framework.
So, that's another two pre-submitted questions, Jacquie.
Now I'm pretty sure this is the point that we hand over to do some live questions.
OK, we've got a couple to get started with,
and I just want to reassure everyone I've been watching your
questions and they're fantastic.
They're very well informed actually, which is pretty exciting for us to see the level
of engagement that's already been put in.
We'll go through some that we can answer here on the spot, but we'll
also be saving them all and sifting through them and thinking about how
we can use them to support and publish answers for the most commonly asked or
frequently asked themed areas of them.
So, let's have a look, which is the first cap off the rank?
Actually, the first cab, I think it's yours, Stephen Gottfried.
There's one on noise that's been shared for us.
So, the question on noise that's come in during the session is,
under what circumstances would. EPA consider construction
noise as unreasonable noise?
So, the EPA has recently released new guidance on how to mitigate construction
noise, which is publication 1820.
So, that's a key component that we'd be looking to.
To add to that, the factors of noise that are considered in an assessment
of unreasonable noise under Section 166 of the Act are outlined in the Act in
the definition of unreasonable noise.
And they are volume, intensity, duration, character, the time, place,
and other circumstances in which the noise is emitted.
And it also includes prescribed factors.
And during the presentation earlier,. I mentioned that frequency spectrum
is included in the regulations as a factor that is part of the assessment
of whether noise is unreasonable noise.
Just to finalise that question, the. EPA is also working on new guidance
to be released to support duty holders to manage low-frequency noise.
Back to you.
Chris, are you going to choose another question for us?
Or do you want me just to plunge in?
Yeah, I've actually got one for Matt, so more
around the Act implementation.
And excuse me while I might just take my camera off 'cause I'm
reading from the screen here.
So, Matt, the question is,
has EPA prepared a document that concisely compares existing and future changes
in particular to SEPP, WMP,. IWMP, works approval, licences,
recycled water EIPs, etc.?
I was just waiting to make sure that I read my cue, unlike the first time up.
Look, the direct answer to the question is that the nature and scale of the
change is something that's not readily accommodated
by a single concise document.
And I think probably today's presentation and the Q&A affirms that.
So, our preferred approach is to support education through a
fairly broad range of documents, channels, platforms, and so forth.
An overview of the permissions framework, including the transition
of the new permissions instruments into the new legislation is available
on our website now in the form of our draft permissions policy.
We are also currently preparing a document that looks at the SEPPs and
the WMPs and explains how they've been translated across from the
old to, or I should say the current to the new legislative framework.
And that will be released in conjunction with the making of
the subordinate legislation.
But overall, bespoke guidance around particular areas of change
has been determined to be the most effective approach there, thanks.
Thank you, Matt.
OK, the next one is for Jacquie.
Will there be a grace period for landfills to accept soil sampled under 621?
Or will the 40 new 1828 analytes be mandatory from 1 July?
I'm really happy to see this question because it gives us an
opportunity to offer some reassurance that we've been looking for.
I guess my opinion is, the grace period is perhaps less necessary
than the question asker might think.
When classifying soil, duty holders must test for all contaminants that are
reasonably expected to be in the soil.
There is not a requirement to test for every contaminant or analyte
listed in EPA publication 1828.
That's a really important point.
And I must say that the consultation process that we went through on the
subordinate legislation was a little bit of a learning curve for us because
we hadn't realised to what extent some duty holders viewed that list
as being mandatory, all-encompassing, must test for everything at all times.
So, I suppose I'm answering your question in a slightly oblique way,
which is yes, there is a requirement from 1 July.
However, that requirement is only for you to test the contaminants or analytes that
you reasonably expect to be in the soil.
We're not asking you to suddenly add a list of 40 every time
you go to think about testing.
Thank you, Jacquie.
We have another one for you, Jacquie.
Does the approach to air, including inventories and odours, capture
greenhouse gases as pollutants?
This is an issue that came through really strongly in our submissions process.
And for those of you who are interested to learn a little more, I'd really
encourage you to go and have a look at the response to public comment
report, which is a Victorian government report that was published to capture
the way that various issues were treated through the submissions.
So, whilst the draft informed protection regulations, or I should say the
proposed final this time, do not include direct reference to greenhouse gases.
They have been developed in the context of the Victorian government's whole of
government commitments and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including
under the Climate Change Act 2017.
Including under the government's long-term vision and approach to climate
change, which of course is set out in. Victoria's climate change framework.
That's the climate change frameworks that set a shared vision for net zero emissions
Climate Resilient Victoria in 2050.
It sets out how action on climate change aligns with the government's focus on jobs
and cost of living and health, and steps the government is taking to commence the
transition, including importantly, how the Climate Change Act will drive action.
So, I think the point we're trying to make is that although the regulations
at this point don't have that level of specificity, we're pointing you
towards the climate change framework as being the primary framework to
address that risk at this time.
The climate change Act also has some specific obligations for EPA here.
The climate change Act requires EPA, when making a decision under the new
environment protection Act for a licence or a permit in including review of an
operating licence, to take into account the potential impacts of climate change
relevant to the decision or action, the potential contribution of the decision
or action to the state's greenhouse gas emissions, and any guidelines issued by
the minister under the climate change Act.
So, having said all of that, nonetheless, the general environmental duty applies
to the risk of harm from greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore requires
action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions by individuals,
businesses, and all parts of government.
We have one on water actually, which is for Stephen.
So it's simply, which clauses of SEPP Waters will be kept?
So, just to clarify, the clauses will be kept for two years from
commencement of the new framework.
So, until mid-2023, based on the intended commencement on 1 July, 2021.
The clauses are actually set out in the transitional regulations, the
proposed final transitional regulations, which are published on EPA's website.
Specifically, in regulation seven, they cover aspects relating to on-site domestic
wastewater management, sewage planning, sediment ponds, storm water management
plans, silent discharges, irrigation drains, and pollutant load targets.
And the clause numbers, again if you look at Regulation Seven
of the transitional regulations, you'll see the clause numbers.
But just quickly Clause 28 sub one and two,
clause 29 clause 30 clause 34 three and four, clause 35 one, five and six,
clause 37 and schedule four of SEPP waters.
Back to you, Chris.
Thank you, Stephen.
This one is for Jacquie.
If a site was cleaned up under a. CUN in the past but then groundwater
is contaminated again years later, for example due to water level
changes, is there a duty to notify?
I told you there was some pretty educated
questions coming through, didn't I?
Look, the answer is, potentially.
It won't be one size fits all answer.
It will really depend on if the contamination is regarded as a
material change to what was assumed and addressed under the original notice.
EPA is providing further guidance on what might constitute a material change.
In any case, if there's some new or a change in contamination, the
contamination will only be notifiable if it meets the criteria in the regs.
So, I hope that's clear.
I guess we had to have one question that the answer was, it depends, right?
Otherwise it wouldn't be a regulator if we weren't answering that from time to time.
But again, pointing you back to the criteria and the regs,
to have a look for yourself and consider how it might apply
to the particular scenario.
OK, thank you, Jacquie.
I think we've just got a question come in here, Stephen Gottfried.
With regard to existing financial assurance, will it be possible to
review under the new regulations?
Thanks,. Chris, the answer is yes.
The Act rather than the regulations provides the ability for duty holders
to apply to EPA to review their financial assurance obligations.
And the Act also provides for EPA to revise individual financial
assurances from time to time.
For example, if the amount of material that a site is storing
increases or decreases, that could prompt EPA to revise an aspect of
an individual financial assurance.
Alright, thank you, Stephen.
Yeah, actually we did have a question there on compliance codes.
So, I can see here that there's a question which reads,
"The new Act has provision for compliance codes.
Can you please advise what the compliance codes will address
and when they'll be released?"
So, that's a great question.
In fact, the new Act sets provisions for a range of instruments besides regulations.
And before I answer your question on compliance codes, which I will,
I'll just kind of point out that we're taking a staged approach
to the development of all of the instruments enabled under the Act,
including subordinate legislation.
Today, we're here to talk to you about the regulations and the
environment reference standards.
We moved on a little bit from the subordinate legislation and
we talked a little bit about determinations and designations.
We chose those as our first priority for the non-regulation instruments
or for the other instruments.
The reason we chose them as first priorities is that they were critical
to the legal functioning of the framework for 1 July in some instances.
It was important that they were in place to support the regs,
particularly some of the lawful place duties in the regs as well.
So, our priorities first were for the regs and the standards in
partnership with the department.
Secondly, determinations and designations to fill the gaps in the legal framework
and make sure that the lawful place duties were smoothly transitioned into.
Looking ahead, you're absolutely right, Question Asker.
Compliance codes are something we're interested in doing.
I would point out though that WorkSafe, which is the model we've used to
inform our approach to compliance codes, over its entire lifespan has
had something like 15 compliance codes,
a really quite small number.
So, compliance codes are not something that's generated frequently.
They're not a missing layer that we all have to wait for to understand
how the framework operates.
They are instruments that will be developed from time to time, largely to
address specific practical challenges.
Again, the WorkSafe example is helpful.
WorkSafe has a compliance code on working with heights, I think.
It might have another compliance code on particular other kinds of
hazards or individual practices.
Now, I think at the moment we've nominated as part of our subordinate
legislation program that we would use the landfill BEPEM.
What does BEPEM stand for?
I struggle with that one, I must say.
But we would use the landfill. BEPEM as a core set of knowledge to
transition into a compliance code.
We thought it would make a great pilot compliance code.
And we started working with the sector a little while ago leading
up to the original commencement date of the Act last year.
When the Act was deferred, we realised it kind of meant we didn't have to rush.
So, we took the decision to put it on pause, move our focus to determinations,
and then later on probably late this year or early next year, we'll be picking
up that landfill compliance code again.
So, the answer to the question is, we're interested in compliance codes.
They aren't our first priority.
They shouldn't be seen as necessary for the functioning
of the framework for day one.
And the first one we've indicated interest in progressing is around landfills.
Oh, and I can see, someone's explained to
me that BEPEM stands for Best. Practice Environmental Management.
Thank you, I get a little bit overwhelmed with acronyms at times people.
CHRIS FRANCIS: Yeah, and we will.
So, as we committed to at the start of the meeting, we said we would
wrap up the themes for the meeting.
There's a lot that has come in and we've got some good themes happening already.
We have attempted to answer a number of those themed questions here.
But, you know, in regards to acronyms we'll spell them out, obviously,
when we put up our published themed questions which will be
available in the next few weeks.
Just looking to the team to see if there's any more questions to come because
we are close to time, but we're just a bit ahead of time, which is great.
Chris, I reckon let's move towards showing people where some
links are to find other information.
'Cause a whole bunch of those questions basically said,
"Where can I find out more?"
So, I reckon that's the best way to do it.
And we can take our time with the rest of them 'cause some
of them are quite technical.
That's right, and we have.
So basically, I have noticed a lot of questions around guidance and around,
you know, here are things available?
We have updated our website,
and I'm sure most of those on the line know.
But I would really emphasise that you bookmark the
in your favourite browser, because we have so much information going
out there and it continues to go up.
We will provide information from this webinar up there in due course, but
there's already a stack of guidance and I'll just read some of it to you.
The thing also, which is great.
So, we had a lot of people from industry associations, environmental
auditors, etc., it's imperative to anyone in business basically
to keep up with the new laws.
You can subscribe to our EPA bulletins.
So, we have bulletins for business, bulletins for...
Sorry, there's just someone on the line.. Can you please mute yourself?
Bulletins for business, we have the community bulletin in Environment,
Your EPA, and a local government bulletin.
A lot of interest from local government here on the chat, in the
question and answer, and also in the pre-submitted questions too.
So, please sign up because it goes straight into your inbox.
As mentioned at the start for those who joined us late, these
links will be provided to you.
The presentation will be provided to you at the end.
And in due course, recordings will be provided to you as well.
You can also follow us on. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
So, that's a good way to keep in touch with the new laws.
I think over time, there's going to be more of a ramp-up around the new laws
as we get closer to that commencement date on 1 July because a lot of what
we put on social media at the moment is to do with current issues and that
kind of thing, but keep an eye on that.
There's some great information available.
Something I really wanted to point out, which has been briefly mentioned in the
presentations today are the sector guides.
We have a number of sector guides available.
So, when you're on that new laws website, please check out our sector
guides, ones that are relevant to you.
And if you're an industry association or a consultant to the members
that you deal, with your clients,
so we encourage you to look at these.
There's a version one out at the moment.
What we're doing is work is currently underway in adding more information
to the sector guides, what we call stage two, some of which pertains to
requirements in the proposed regulations.
So, what you heard from. Jacquie and Stephen today.
Really key information.
We're going release the stage two sector guides prior to the
new legislation taking effect.
So, on the screen there, you can see the retail and small
business sector guide there.
That is an example, I think, of seven that we have.
So, check that out.
As I mentioned, the recording slides and relevant links will be made available
to all who have registered today.
I wanted to just do a big shout out, particularly to all the people who
have gone online and registered,
not only registered, and put through some key questions.
That has helped us mould this session beautifully today.
We thank you so much for your input.
So, thank you for that.
Just reiterating that we're going to publish some of our most commonly
asked question themes and the corresponding answers on our website.
We do encourage, you know, for issues and other things that have come up,
which may not have been answered today,
that you call our contact centre.
1 300 EPA VIC, that's 1 300 372 842.
The purpose of today's webinar was on the new laws,
but we do take pollution reports, etc., very seriously, that's our job.
So, you can always also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a survey available in the Eventbrite,
through the Eventbrite process.
So, we're not providing that right now.
It's just, you know.
It's actually, I've just got a note saying it's been posted
into the Q&A, so excuse me.
I had thought that was gonna come in later.
It is coming in now, nice work team.
So, Q&A will be in there in front of you now.
Sorry, I'm not the best news reader here.
So, please keep an eye out for that.
And just wanted to say a final thanks for joining us today.
It's been a huge effort from all the team.
And as we said, subscribe to our bulletins, bookmark the website, keep in
touch, and we hope to see you really soon.
It's something like this that we may do again on more specific themes.
But we'll have another thing to mention, actually,
that I just did neglect to mention is, we have something
called the Readiness Roadmap.
So, that is on the new laws website.
Please, that gives you a good idea of what's coming up.
We do have a number of sessions coming up on specific themes.
And the waste tracker one that Jacquie mentioned,
that will be in, I think, on 23, Feb.
So, please keep an eye out for that for anyone for who that's relevant to.
But enough from me, thanks for joining us this afternoon
and we hope that you enjoyed the session.
Victoria’s new environment protection legislation commences on 1 July 2021. This is the most significant reform to Victoria's environment protection laws in the 50 years of EPA's existence.
Given the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the decision was made last year to postpone the commencement of the new environment protection legislation by one year. In December 2020, the Victorian Government released the proposed final versions of the regulations and the environment reference standard (ERS).
This webinar explored key changes to environmental regulations.
Responses to questions from the Subordinate Legislation and New Laws Webinar
How can a landfill operator be confident that all potentially present contaminants have been adequately evaluated?
If waste soil comes from contaminated land, the producer must determine the waste’s priority waste category as soon as possible after sourcing the soil and before it’s transported. This means referring to the contaminant or leachable concentration thresholds in Waste Disposal Categories – Characteristics and Thresholds (publication 1828).
The producer determines if testing is required based on site characterisation, such as the land is contaminated, or the site’s history. Where testing is required, the producer must test for all contaminants they know and reasonably expect to be in the soil.
Testing may be necessary for contaminants not listed in Table 3 of publication 1828. While EPA doesn’t require that producers test for everything, it is at the producer’s own risk to undertake inadequate testing. EPA may take compliance action if it’s found that the classification and testing conducted by the producer was inadequate.
A receiver’s responsibility is to ensure they’re lawfully able to accept the waste. This includes taking reasonably practicable measures to know what the waste is that they’re accepting.
Whether it is being used onsite or offsite, contaminated soil must be classified. Regulation 68(1) of the proposed final EP Regulations sets out requirements for the classification of soil sourced on site from contaminated land. As soon as practicable after sourcing the soil, the person in management or control of that soil must classify it as one of the following:
- Category A waste
- Category B waste
- Category C waste
- Category D waste
- Soil containing asbestos only.
The person depositing the soil on site or off site must also ensure the contaminated soil is taken to a lawful place. Find more information on managing waste soil.
The new EP Act (s157) allows EPA to authorise the emergency storage, deposit and disposal of waste, including animal waste, for the purposes of:
- meeting a temporary emergency
- providing for the temporary relief of a public nuisance or community hardship
- enabling the commissioning, repair, decommissioning or dismantling of any item of plant or equipment.
This is equivalent to emergency authorisations made under section 30A of the former EP Act. From 1 July 2021, authorisations granted under the former EP Act (s30A) will automatically transition to become authorisations under section 157 of the new Act.
A fee will apply for emergency authorisations. Regulation 209 of the proposed final EP Regulations allows EPA to waive this fee in certain circumstances. The Minister may also waive the requirement to pay the waste levy in an emergency.
Section 354 of the new EP Act gives an overriding defence against a contravention of the new EP Act or the Regulations if it occurred in an emergency or to prevent danger to life or limb.
EPA has recently updated its webpages on contaminated land and has released additional guidance to support understanding of the new contaminated land framework.
The Contaminated land policy (publication 1915) provides detail on the new contaminated land scheme. The policy includes information about the new duties, how EPA will implement these duties, and how EPA expects duty holders to approach compliance.
EPA will release further guidance on the contaminated land scheme and the contaminated land duties. This will include:
- Guidance on the Duty to Manage: Assessing and Controlling Risks of Harm from Contaminated Land
- Guidance on the Duty to Notify
- Potentially Contaminated Land - guidance for business.
Under the new EP Act, land is contaminated when waste or a chemical substance is present above background levels and creates a risk of harm to human health or the environment. The new EP Act, however, also enables EPA to consider and account for naturally elevated levels of contaminants, or levels that are elevated due to historical land use.
Regulation 5 of the proposed final EP Regulations allows EPA to make a determination to specify a background level – or a process for deriving a background level – for a chemical substance or waste that displaces the application of the naturally occurring concentration of that chemical substance or waste. Such determinations can be general or specific and apply to a single location or several locations.
To ensure the burden of the new contaminated land duties is proportionate, EPA is developing a determination. This will set out a method for determining background levels where ambient contamination is present. EPA recently undertook a consultation on the proposed methodology, and information, including a consultation paper, which is available on Engage Victoria.
Schedule 1 of the proposed final EP Regulations sets out the prescribed activities for which a permission is required. Column 4 of the Table in Schedule 1 specifies which type of permission is required for the activity. For example, a permit will be required for a ‘prescribed permit activity’. The Schedule also sets thresholds or circumstances where the permission requirement does not apply.
In addition, Part 3.5 of the proposed final EP Regulations set out a number of prescribed permission exemption categories. Most of these are specific to a certain type of activity. They’re usually temporary exemptions (Regulations 222-224) where a person is engaged in specified activities prior to commencement of the new EP Act. Learn more about Permissions.
It is not clear how the ‘supply or use’ and associated exemptions for reclaimed wastewater or biosolids use are intended to operate. Can you please explain this?
The proposed final EP Regulations include a number of permits relating to the supply or use of specified wastes. These permits are designed to provide a lawful pathway for the legitimate use of wastes.
The permits will replace several environment improvement plan (EIP) mechanisms and other tools under the current framework. These permits include those for supply or use of:
- reclaimed wastewater. For example, wastewater that’s been treated and is intended for use
- wastes classified as reportable priority wastes (transport).
The ‘supply or use’ mechanism is designed to minimise burden and cost for duty holders while ensuring environmental and human health risks are adequately managed. Under this mechanism, where a ‘supplier’ holds a permit, the ‘users’ of the waste are exempted from the requirement to hold a permit, provided the waste is used immediately and for the purposes and circumstances set out in the supplier’s permit.
The following proposed final Regulations establish the exemptions from the use permits:
- 40(1)(a) and 63(e) for reclaimed wastewater
- 40(1)(b) and 63(f) for biosolids
- 40(1)(c) and 63(g) for reportable priority waste (transport) other than soil.
I am a current licence holder. What can you tell me about how my licence and conditions will transition into the new framework?
On 1 March 2021, EPA sent all current licence holders information outlining the process required to transition their current permission. The majority of current licence holders will transition to an operating licence on 1 July 2021. Amendments to the conditions of operating licences will be progressively reviewed from 1July 2021 to 30 June 2022.
To support the transition of waste transport-related permissions, duty holders were asked to validate key waste codes (which have been subject to change in accordance with Schedule 5 of the proposed final EP Regulations). These duty holders will receive a proposed Notice of Amendment on 22 April, prior to final amendments taking effect on 1 July 2021. The changes are required to enable the new Waste Tracker portal to operate effectively for permission holders upon commencement of the new EP Act.
In mid-2020, EPA held a webinar about changes to operating licences. EPA has also published a number of guidance documents to support licence holders in understanding their obligations under the new laws, including how to implement the general environmental duty (GED) as part of their risk management and monitoring programs, such as:
- Guidance for operating licences (publication 1850)
- Implementing the general environmental duty: A guide for licence holders (publication 1851).
Air, water and noise
The approach for the regulation of the manufacture and supply of solid fuel heaters is informed by the recent review of the Waste Management Policy (Solid Fuel Heaters), which led to a variation to the policy in late 2018. The review included public consultation and consideration of public submissions.
Solid fuel heaters are the only available form of heating in some areas of Victoria and therefore a phase out of wood stoves or fires across the state is not feasible. Under the GED, all duty holders have a responsibility to minimise their risks — this will include the operation of solid fuel heaters.
EPA’s website has information on the correct operation of solid fuel heaters. The guidance is currently being reviewed, with EPA identifying priority guidance to minimise risks and improve environment and health outcomes.
Local government has powers under the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. Under these provisions, any owner of a property or the person causing nuisance smoke must take all reasonable steps to eliminate the nuisance.
The Victorian Government is preparing the Victorian Air Quality Strategy to tackle air quality challenges, including smoke from wood heaters.
EPA is developing ‘Guidelines for the Assessment and Minimisation of Air Pollution in Victoria’. These will provide guidance on how activities with emissions to air can meet the general environmental duty by providing a clear framework to identify, assess and minimise risks. As part of this, EPA is aiming to develop nationally consistent Air Quality Assessment Criteria (AQACs), which are risk-based concentrations of pollutants in air that are protective of human health and other environmental values of air. A consultation process will occur to support the development of the guidelines.
EPA is also developing odour assessment guidance, which will assist proponents, the planning sector and decision makers to identify methods for assessing the impacts of odour pollution on human health and wellbeing.
‘Unreasonable noise’ is usually determined by applying the factors specified in section 3(1) (Definitions) of the new EP Act – that is, noise that’s unreasonable having regard to:
- its volume, intensity and duration
- its character, the time, place and other circumstances in which it is emitted
- how often it is emitted
- the frequency spectrum (a prescribed factor in proposed final Regulation 120).
‘Aggravated noise’ is typically a noise emission that far exceeds the unreasonable noise levels or involves actions by a duty holder that do not comply with a notice or continue and lead to material harm.
Part 5.3 of the proposed final EP Regulations prescribe what is unreasonable and aggravated noise with respect to:
- residential premises
- commercial, industrial and trade premises
- indoor and outdoor entertainment venues.
The Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (publication 1826) is also relevant for determining whether noise is unreasonable or aggravated (for example for determining when a noise limit is breached).
There are no provisions in the new laws that apply only to stormwater pollution. However, the general environmental duty (GED) is at the centre of the new EP Act and applies to all Victorians. Everyone must minimise the risks of harm to human health and the environment from their activities.
EPA has published guidance to support minimising risk of harm from stormwater, including:
- Liquid Storage and Handling guidelines (publication 1698)
- Construction - guide to preventing harm to people and the environment (publication 1820)
- Civil construction, building and demolition guide (publication 1834).
These publications include guidance on managing stormwater for builders and construction workers.
In addition, EPA is developing new urban stormwater management guidance to provide information that will support the planning and design of new urban stormwater management systems. Find the Draft urban stormwater management guidance. The proposed final Transitional Regulations will continue some existing requirements related to maintenance of assets and stormwater planning in clause 34(3) and (4) of the State environment protection policy (Waters) until 1 July 2023.
No. The Environment Reference Standard (ERS) is not a compliance standard, so meeting the ERS objectives is not the default compliance position. For example, the general environmental duty (GED) requirement to minimise risks of harm so far as reasonably practicable applies, whether or not ERS objectives are achieved. Compliance generally involves complying with the duties in the Act, such as the GED, and any other specific requirements as specified in the Act and Regulations.
Find more information on the role of the ERS.
Onsite wastewater management systems (OWMS)
How will non-permitted OWMS installed pre 1970 be managed with respect to needing a permit under the new regs?A council permit is required for the construction or installation of an Onsite Wastewater Management System (OWMS) with a capacity of up to 5000 litres on any day. A (new) permit will not be required for an existing or legacy system. However, the proposed final EP Regulations introduce new requirements for persons in management or control of land with an OWMS that will apply to all operating OWMS, including legacy systems that were not subject to a permit when they were installed.
If a wastewater treatment system of a large discharger is under licence by a water authority, is an EPA licence required for such plan?Treating, discharging or depositing sewage, exceeding a design or actual flow rate of 5000 litres per day or on any day is both a prescribed development activity and prescribed operating activity and would therefore require an EPA licence for carrying out those activities (see proposed final EP Regulations, Schedule 1, item 5).
EPA is dedicated to supporting councils to be ready for the new EP Act and Regulations and is approaching this in a variety of ways, including:
- direct engagement with councils
- via the Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) program
- through EPA regional offices, that all have established links with their local councils
- by development of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Municipal Association of Victoria.
Developed in consultation with councils, EPA will publish four guides and toolkits for councils and council officers before 1 July 2021:
- Administering your powers under the Environment Protection Act: guide for local government and litter authorities
- Regulating litter and other waste: toolkit (publication 1927)
- Regulating onsite wastewater management systems local government toolkit
- Regulating residential noise local government toolkit.
Before the new EP Act commences, EPA plans to conduct a webinar to support councils in their role as joint regulators.
Keep Victoria Beautiful (in partnership with EPA) is also providing training on litter and waste in May and June 2021 through the Litter Enforcement Officers Network.
EPA has developed a draft ‘Regulatory Strategy – 2020-2025’. This sets out our vision for the delivery of regulatory functions and activities. EPA will soon release a final version of the strategy, along with supporting policies, including a Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
Will there be any differences between the proposed final versions released in December and the subordinate legislation that is made law?
To provide as much certainty as possible, the Victorian Government has minimised changes to the existing elements of the proposed final subordinate legislation.
Amendments to the final proposed Regulations were necessary to specify relevant standards for septic tank construction. Some minor and technical changes were also made to the Regulations and ERS. Some further changes may be made to incorporate policy issues developed since the delay to commencement, regarding tunnel boring machine spoil and wind energy facility noise. These issues were always scheduled for development after the original commencement date, but due to the delay they’ve been worked on concurrently.
Will there be further webinars coming up to help assist us understand the changes and implementation?
EPA currently plans to run four webinars in the lead up to the new laws’ commencement on 1 July 2021:
- Local government as joint regulators (May)
- The role of industry and business in protecting the environment (May)
- Waste framework deep dive (June)
To stay informed about out how EPA is preparing Victorians for the new laws, subscribe to EPA’s readiness roadmap.
Reviewed 29 April 2021