Wed 08 Nov 2017

EPA Victoria’s new pilot program to introduce 10 Environment Protection Officers to Local Councils:

The 28th September edition of the CCF E-News featured an article providing a snapshot of EPA Victoria’s Organisational Strategy and Annual Plan for 2017-18.

The Plan and Strategy are underpinned by an independent inquiry into EPA Victoria, followed by the Andrews Labor Government response document to the Inquiry.

Amongst several other support-for-reform proposals, the response document announced a Victorian Government commitment of $4.8 million to implement a pilot program of Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs).

This pilot program will involve appointing 10 environment protection officers authorised under the Environment Protection Act 1970 whose priority will be responding to localised pollution and waste complaints like noise, odour and dust which significantly impact local amenity and health.

OPLEs will work within local councils, but will be full time employees of EPA Victoria.

The goal of the pilot program is to decrease the environmental and amenity impacts of lower risk and complexity waste and pollution.

Objectives:
  • Improved responses to pollution and complaints (immediate and planned responses)
  • Improved industry compliance with their obligations
  • Increased proactive and preventative measures (to prevent harm in the first place)
  • Improved capability within and relationships between Local Government and EPA

Through an Expression of Interest process conducted earlier in 2017, the Pilot will fund 10 OPLEs to work within the following 13 local councils:

  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Casey
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • Wyndham City Council
  • Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • City of Wodonga
  • Loddon Shire Council, Buloke Shire and Central Goldfields (shared OPLE)
  • Brimbank City Council and Hobsons Bay City Council (shared OPLE)

The pilot OPLE program commenced in September 2017 and run for 15 months.

As of mid-October 2017, all OPLEs are undertaking intensive training to be authorised before the end of 2017.

OPLE’s main duties:
  • Responding to complaints and engaging directly with community members and local businesses
  • Providing information and educational based support on prevention of pollution
  • Proactive inspections of local businesses to support compliance
What’s out of scope:
  • Emergency events
  • Sanctions (NB: OPLEs will be trained to issue Litter Infringement Notices)
  • Residential sources of pollution
  • Council operations e.g. landfills
  • Taking on duties of existing roles e.g. Council Environmental Health Officers or Planning Officers

EPA’s local government environment protection officer pilot program will enable an improved and consistent response to amenity, pollution and waste issues.

For more information visit the EPA website, or contact CCF Environmental Field Officer Wayne Huntley on (03) 9822 0900 or at whuntley@ccfvic.com.au.