Businesses in Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) Southern Metro area are being invited to hear how the new Environment Protection Act will affect them at an Open House in Dandenong on Thursday (28 Feb).
The new Act emphasises the need to prevent pollution occurring, but still gives EPA, as the regulator, significant deterrents including fines up to $1.6 million for breaches. Reckless and deliberate acts that cause pollution could lead to fines of up to $3.2m and possible jail for individuals.
Businesses, as well as individuals, in the area which stretches from Brighton on the bay to Cockatoo in the Dandenongs, down to the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport Bay, will be covered by the new laws from July 2020.
EPA will be proactively engaging with businesses so they know what they have to do to be compliant and the benefits that being compliant bring.
“The region has faced environmental challenges including dust and odour from our many landfills, as well as sewage spills and pollution events in our creeks and waterways. EPA officers are often called because of foam in the Dandenong Creek or plastics discharging into waterways,” said EPA Southern Metro Manager Stephen Lansdell.
“This Act will help us prevent those and other kinds of pollution challenges. While there are businesses that wilfully ignore their obligation to protect the environment, many simply don’t understand what they have to do to be compliant with the Act. Ignorance will not be a defence and from July 2020 they could face large fines if they cause pollution and harm the environment or the community.
“If a business is not compliant, they should know that the potential penalties can be extremely costly, and as the Act gives wider powers, there’s a much greater chance of detection leading to an EPA sanction. “
EPA is planning events throughout the lead up to the implementation of the new laws and as a first step, the Authority is holding a series of open houses for local businesses and community members to come along and discuss the new Act and how it affects businesses.