This alert is relevant to industry regulated by the EPA, water corporations, local government and planning authorities.
On 14 June 2017 the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Environment Protection Authority (“EPA”) made the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises) Regulations 2017 (Vic) (“Regulations”).
The Regulations commence on 25 June 2017.
The Regulations are effectively the 4th iteration of regulations under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic)(“Act”) governing premises that are ‘scheduled’ and consequently subject to works approval and licensing provisions.
Whether a premises is ‘scheduled’ and requires a works approval or licence is adopted as criteria under other legislation for various purposes such as a referral authority under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) and the Victorian Planning Provisions.
Premises that are now ‘scheduled’ under the Regulations and were previously not regulated:
- Facilities with capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes per annum of specified electronic waste (addition to A02 – Other waste treatment)
- Facilities with more than 40 tonnes or 5000 equivalent passenger units of waste tyres (A09 – Waste tyre storage)
- Organic waste processing other than composting (e.g. vermiculture) and timber residual processors (sawdust, bark etc – high end potting mixes) (A07 – Organic was processing)
Premises that are no longer scheduled:
- (K03 – Potable water treatment plants)
Modifications to scheduled threshold or exemption criteria:
- (A08 – Waste to energy) additional threshold of 3 megawatts of thermal capacity
- (A07 – Organic waste processing) alternative and reduced monthly threshold expressed as product
- (D02 – Rendering) additional criteria that products are not fit for human consumption and a throughput of 200 tonnes per annum
- (D09 – Beverage manufacturers) additional exclusion criteria that waste solely disposed to land for all processors not just wineries
- (H05 – Glass works) additional threshold of 10,000 tonnes per annum of reprocessing waste glass
- Emission of less than 5 kilograms per day of volatile organic substances excluding odorous compounds (now includes odorous compounds)
- Modifications to a sewage treatment plant occupied by a water corporation in accordance with specifications acceptable to EPA (amendment to A03 – Sewage treatment)
Removal of exemptions:
- Municipal landfill serving less than 500 people not operating prior to commencement of the Regulations now requires a works approval – exemption removed (A05 – Landfills)
There are appears to be three general trends in the changes introduced by the Regulations.
- Reduced regulatory burden on water corporations (works approval) in relation to the provision of essential services of water and sewage.
- Increased regulatory burden on organic waste processers now considering products.
- Broader regulatory control over waste storage and processing (tyres, electronics, organics and glass).
The increased and broadened regulatory burden would appear to be directed toward using the licensing system to compel mandatory reporting of waste volumes rather than addressing any specific environmental concerns from the operations.
This is evident in comparing organic processors of timber residuals (saw dust and bark) now required to be licensed and waste transfer stations that continue to remain non-scheduled. Inclusion of waste transfer stations would effectively create a ‘double count’ in the Federal waste reporting method.
The continued omission of any consideration to schedule fire-fighting training facilities would also appear to be in stark contrast to the proposition of scheduling high impact activities. EPA has issued clean up notices to the Country Fire Authority for all seven regional fire-fighting training facilities.
Activities at the Fiskville fire-fighting training facility were the subject of a Parliamentary Inquiry¹ with 18 deaths linked to the facility by a Monash University study. EPA and other regulators remain the subject of scathing criticism concerning activities at the facility. State Government would be the primary entity licensed.