26 September 2023

EPA thinks big about small-scale pollutions

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The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is to expand a successful pilot program by helping communities with smaller-scale pollution issues such as dust, odour, noise and illegal dumping.

Chief Executive of EPA, Lee Miezis said that during the initial pilot, EPA’s Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs) were matched with 23 Councils to investigate local environmental offences.

Mr Miezis said the program was now being expanded to all 79 of Victoria’s municipalities as an ongoing service.

“The program also focuses on preventative work, reducing illegal chemical and waste stockpiling,” Mr Miezis said.

“The program strengthens relationships between EPA and Councils, giving faster responses, increased accountability and better outcomes for community, industry and the environment,” he said.

“Councils participating in the pilot since 2017 have reported faster response times to pollution reports and increased collaboration, information sharing and expertise.”

Mr Miezis’s OPLE staff addressed more than 1,600 reports between 2018 and 2020, while the average time taken to complete an investigation and resolve the incident dropped from 65 days to 22, and members of the public who reported incidents were three times more likely to be satisfied with the result.

He said an independent assessor’s report in 2020 found the OPLE pilot was achieving improved responses to known and newly reported pollution, improved industry compliance with the Act, more preventative measures, and improved local capability to deal with environmental issues.

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