The decision by the Victorian EPA to adjust the launch of Victoria’s new Environment Protection Act (EP Act) to July 1, 2021 has been met positively by industry leaders.
Originally slated to commence this July, the new Act represents a significant shift in approach towards prevention, as well as a more flexible, risk‐based approach to compliance.
According to The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) both of these approaches are welcome but it will take time for industry and government to work through together to get the balance right.
WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan explained that the association had been deeply engaged with the regulator in a bid to iron out a number of aspects, including challenges with the current complexity, and had been advocating that further time was required.
WMRR also noted that with the current challenges being faced throughout Australia, including the essential WARR industry, it is consumed with the job at hand of keeping services operating and ensuring the safety of staff and the community, and that it needs to remain focused on this task at this time and not further regulatory change.
“This move further cements the fact that the Victorian government listens to the needs of our essential industry and is willing to consider our concerns and recommendations,” Sloan said.
WMRR added that it appreciated the government’s decision to defer the commencement of the new EP Act by a year.
“This affords all of us – industry and governments alike – time to work through the sticking points and ensure that the Act meets all its objectives and the industry is given sufficient time to plan for the changes. There is much still to be done but this deferment certainly puts all of us in a much better position to drive success,” Sloan said.
“Importantly, the EPA is keenly aware that now is not the time to be effecting significant regulatory changes and as we continue to face mounting challenges related to the pandemic, business as usual is unrealistic. WMRR believes that all governments should reconsider the need to progress additional regulations that will place undue financial and operational pressure on operators who are already facing extremely difficult times.
“We would encourage other jurisdictions to urgently pivot towards a post‐COVID19 world for our essential industry, by actioning strategic policies and plans that will build a solid foundation for a strong and sustainable environment, as well as fast tracking the capital funding, planning, and approval of waste and resource recovery and remanufacturing infrastructure.
Doing this now, we hope, will enable us to come out of this pandemic with a strong and viable sector, which will positively offer a much‐needed boost to local economies, creating local jobs that will be welcomed now and into the future,” Sloan concluded.