Victorians can now expect an even closer eye to be kept on their local pollution problems under an exciting new EPA program.
Originally funded in 2018 to the tune of $6.47 million, the Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) pilot program has seen 11 new authorised EPA officers assigned to 13 council areas across the state. The Victorian Government has now committed a further $3.4 million to expand the OPLE pilot.
While EPA’s Environment Protection Officers tend to prioritise larger scale, higher risk pollution and polluters, our OPLEs are all about local amenity. Based at council offices, and working hand in hand with them, they are able to swiftly respond to local reports of noise, odour, dust, waste dumping and storage, litter and water pollution.
As well as environmental compliance and enforcement, the OPLEs have been given thorough training in a range of skills needed to support councils, such as noise monitoring and assessments.
Born out of need to improve response times – not least when it comes to odour, noise and dust – the OPLE pilot is making us ever more aware of the unique challenges that are faced by different councils, and the best ways in which our officers can respond to them. This variety of experience on the ground will help improve the pilot
Along with enforcing the law, OPLEs also focus on business and community education. The goal is to improve awareness of the harm done by pollution and waste – not just to our environment, but also our health. OPLEs will seek to equip local industry, business and community members with the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent, identify and resolve environmental issues.
The councils participating in the pilot are:
OPLE pilot expanded
The Victorian Government has committed to funding the OPLE pilot until June 2020. The expanded program will allow for a further four to six new OPLEs to be placed in four to ten additional councils, and councils can nominate to share an OPLE with another council.
We are currently calling for expressions of interest from Victorian councils.
For more information, download Fact sheet: OPLE pilot program (publication 1685) or call 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).