Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 becomes law, in a root and branch overhaul of Victoria's environmental law

Environment & Planning Government

In brief

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 has passed the Victorian Parliament. The Act is an ambitious overhaul of Victorian environmental law, and plants the seeds for a robust new environmental regime.


The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Act) was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 22 August 2018, and will commence on 1 July 2020.

Its features include the introduction of a General Environmental Duty (GED), which, for the first time in Australia, will be criminally enforceable. The Act will also give the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority greater investigative powers and increase sanctions and penalties. Additionally, the reforms uproot the current licencing regime and will establish a tiered permissions framework in its place. Further, businesses will soon have positive duties to manage and report contamination and pollution events.

The key elements of the Act are unchanged since our earlier, more detailed, article, Focus: A new era for Victoria's environmental protection, which was published when the Act was at the bill stage.

Given that the commencement is just over a year-and-a-half away, businesses will need to consider how the new laws will affect them, identify possible areas of non-compliance and prepare strategies for implementation.

To assist you with this process, we will be progressively publishing a series of articles over the next few weeks, which will unpack the following aspects of the new Act:

  • What will the GED look like in practice? How have other states interpreted the GED?
  • What is the Material Harm Offence? And why does it lapse after four years?
  • Who can bring a third-party action for a breach of an environmental duty?
  • What are the new obligations for businesses in relation to land and groundwater contamination?
  • How will the tiered permissions system work, and which licence is appropriate for your business?

You are welcome to contact us if you would like further information in relation to any aspect of the Act. You can also subscribe to the Environment & Planning mailing list to keep track of our articles relating to the new Act.