EPA and Local Government: Empowering you as a joint regulator

Clare Moran: Hello and welcometo one in a series of webinars that the EPA is runningin the leadup to 1 July and the commencement of theEnvironment Protection Act 2017. My name is Clare Moran, and I ama senior program manager in our Regulatory Standardsand Enforcement Division. Some of you I have metor emailed during the past almost two years that I’ve beenworking on this topic. I hope that you willfind today informative, and I want to saythanks to many of you who have provided feedbackover that time to help us getto where we are today. The EPA valuesour working relationship with local government. You are our partners;you jointly regulate with us under the EnvironmentProtection Act; and you are duty holders, meaning that youhave obligations under the environmentprotection framework.Today’s webinar aimsto prepare you in your role as a joint regulator, as we head towardsthe commencement of the new Environment Protection Acton 1 July this year. The EPA acknowledges Aboriginalpeople as the First Peoples and traditional custodiansof the land and water on which we live,work and depend. We pay our respectsto Aboriginal elders past and present.I am coming to you todayfrom Wurundjeri country. As Victoria’senvironmental regulator, we pay our respectsto how country has been protectedand cared for by Aboriginal people over manytens of thousands of years. We recognisethe unique spiritual and cultural significanceof land, water and all thatis in the environment, as well as the continuingconnection and aspirations for country of Aboriginal peopleand traditional custodians. The image that you seeon this slide is the EPA’s Aboriginalinclusion symbol, the Giamwillim shield. It was commissionedby the EPA from Wurundjeri artist Mandy Nicholson;it signifies protection. I would like to remind you thatthis session is being recorded. The recording, slidesand relevant links will be made available to allwho have registered today. The best way to communicatewith our support team is through the Q&A featureat the right of your screen.If you would like to accessthe closed captions, you can switch them on at thebottom of this video window where it says ‘CC’. We are so pleased that there hasbeen such an excellent response to this event, with over 680 peoplehaving registered and over 45pre-submitted questions. The information presentedin today’s webinar is providedas general guidance only. It does not constitute legalor professional advice and should not be relied onas a replacement for consulting the lawsdirectly to understand how they may apply to youor your council. If you haveany specific concerns, you should obtainprofessional advice. I will go now to the agenda. We have three different speakerstoday to focus on the key topics where councils are empoweredto regulate under the act. I will take you through onsitewastewater management systems; then Will Mosley,who is one of the EPA’s officers for the protectionof the local environment, will talk aboutresidential noise; and, following Will, Clare Dawson will talkthrough litter and other waste.Some of you will know Clare as our lead developerof the three toolkits, which we will betalking to later on. We have had an excellentresponse to this webinar, as I have mentioned,with over 680 registrations and over 45pre-submitted questions. We have allowed timefor questions after each topic, and we have tried to address many of the pre-submittedquestions in our presentations. We have also selectedthe top five questions most commonly asked by you, from the questions that yousubmitted when you registered, to answer during the Q&A.We encourage you to continueasking questions related to the contentthat you will see today, using the Q&A featureavailable to you. You also have the opportunityto up-vote the questions that youmost want covered today; please use this tool to help us to prioritisethe most popular questions. Our presenters, thank goodness, will be helped in answeringyour questions by a small panel of EPA experts who will be workingin the background. Over the coming weeks, we willwork through the questions that we aren’t ableto answer today and commit to making available to you the most frequentlyasked questions and answers. As for questions or commentsrelated to current issues, we won’t get to those today. I reiterate that this sessionis about the new laws and council’s regulatory role; so please be mindful of that,when submitting your questions. Queries relating to pollutionincidents or issues should be directed to ourcontact centre on 1300 372 842. Also, we will nothave time today to answer your questionson council’s role as a duty holderunder the act; this includes somepre-submitted questions that we receivedabout landfills, waste transfer stationsand resource recovery.If you or your colleagues are looking for informationand support, there are plenty of resourcesavailable on the EPA website, including twoupcoming webinars. Today we have tailoredthe information to be operationally focusedso that you can have a taste of how the new lawswill work for you in practice. That means that we will not becovering the background to why the laws have changed or the changesacross the entire act. If you would likethis information, you can watchour ‘new laws’ webinar, which was heldin February this year and is availableon our website. We have broken it into chapterswith clickable time codes so that you can watchwhat is relevant to you. In preparing councils to assumetheir powers under the new act, we have focused our efforts on building their capabilityand confidence to enable them to understandand apply the new powers.We know that capacityand resourcing are significant issuesfor councils, as they are for the EPA. Just like it is now,councils and the EPA will have to continueto prioritise their work and make decisions aboutwhere to direct effort that best protectstheir communities; the new laws changenothing in this regard. The key tools for buildingyour capability and confidence are four newguidance documents; these are all either finalisedand published on our website, or they will bein the very near future. We will be talking throughthe operational toolkits today, which are the bottomthree in the diagram: regulating litter and waste, regulating onsitewastewater management systems and regulatingresidential noise.When we talked to councilsabout what they would need in order to be readyand considered the resources that we had availableand our past experience, we chose to concentrateour efforts on producing these detailedtoolkits as the key resources. Of course, there is alwaysmore that could be done, but we think these providea very solid foundation. One of the key changes is that there will bea new delegation to councils. This delegation applies only to onsitewastewater management systems and residentialconstruction noise.There are limitationson who can be appointed and how the powersare enforced. We want to acknowledgethese limitations upfront and let you knowthat we are working with DELWP on options to address them. There will be more detailin the next two presentations on the delegation. Just to be clear,the delegation is not relevant to regulating litterand other waste. The EPA is preparing to sign offon a memorandum of understanding with the Municipal Associationof Victoria, on behalf of local government.This is a formal acknowledgement of the importantworking relationship between EPA, MAVand local government, in the protectionof human health and the environmentfrom pollution and waste. Also, it providesa framework for EPA, MAV and local governmentto work more collaboratively and efficiently towardsachieving environment protection outcomes forthe Victorian community. We thank MAV for recommendingto us the MOU; we encourage youto explore with MAV how the MOUcan work for you; and we look forward to jointlydeveloping some specific and tangible actionsunder the MOU. Recently, the EPA has added new local government pagesto our website; these are a good starting pointfor accessing the tools and resources that we willtalk through today.We will go now to the detailedpresentations. Our first topic is onsitewastewater management systems, which include septic systems,with a capacity of less than or equalto 5,000 litres on any day. If we reflect on why we are heretoday, at the most basic level, it’s about protecting peopleand the environment. We know that a poorly managed on-site wastewatermanagement system can cause harm to theenvironment and human health. We both have a role focusedon preventing such harms, which is made even stronger by the preventative focusof the new act. Having the right tools toprevent harm is also important, and we will be exploringthose tools today.One of the key thingsthat you need to know is that the scopeof council’s role as a regulator of onsitewastewater management systems has not changedyou currentlyhave a regulatory role, and you will continueto have a regulatory rolebut the lawsand powers have changed. Finally, there are materialsand resources to help you to be readyto regulate on 1 July. Councils have an importantand longstanding role in regulating the construction,installation, alteration and use of onsitewastewater management systems. This role continues under thenew environment protection laws, with councils havingadditional powers and tools. So what has changed? The new lawshave new requirements for the operationand maintenance of systems for ownersand occupiers of the land on which such systemsare located. Penalties,which councils can enforce, apply for non-compliance.There is better coverageof legacy or very old systemsthat have never had a permit; and there are newauthorised officer powers via a delegationfrom the EPA to councils, allowing councilsto take action under the generalenvironmental duty. If you take only one actionaway from today, it is that you should havea read of the onsitewastewater management toolkit, as it’s your go-to resourceto understand the new laws and powers.There are 60plus pages of detailed operationalinformation for councils. This is an entirelynew document, with a complianceand enforcement focus. It applies from 1 July 2021, when the Environment ProtectionAct 2017 comes into effect. It complements but does notreplace the code of practice. You will be ableto access the toolkit at the EPA website next week,when it is published, and we will make sure that welet you know when it is ready.The EPA has developedthis toolkit with councils and for councils. Since the releaseof the draft environment protection regulationsin September 2019, there has been a high levelof interest and engagementfrom councils. We have been workingintensively to understand and address this feedback, both by directly makingchanges to the regulations and by providingsupport materials. A draft toolkit was distributedto approximately 35 councils and stakeholdersin March this year for feedback. The Regulating onsitewastewater management systems: local government toolkitwill be published on the EPA’s websitenext week. It is important for councilsand council officers to understand the sourceof their powers. Under the new framework,there is a suite of powers for councils and councilofficers from different sources. There are direct powersunder the act and regulations for issuing permits and regulating the operationand maintenance of systems. There are also powers delegatedby the EPA to councils, allowing them to appointauthorised officers for specific purposes.I will talk about the delegatedpowers in more detail later. Before we go into the detail, let’s take a bird’s-eye viewof the legislative framework. There are three segments: permitting, on the leftin the dark blue; operation and maintenance,in the middle in the green; and the delegated powers,in the light blue, to issue improvementand prohibition notices.Sitting over the top isthe general environmental duty, which is broadand applies to all activities. First, we have permitting. Councils will continueto administer permits for the construction, installation or alterationof a system with a capacity of upto 5,000 litres on any day. The regulations provide criteriafor councils to consider, when assessingpermit applications, and the circumstanceswhen a permit must be refused. Councils are not ableto take enforcement action for permit-related offences.I will go now to operationand maintenance. Following feedbackon the draft regulations, a new section has been includedin the final regulations; this is to reduce reliance onthe general environmental duty and to provide greater certaintyand clarity for householdsand local government regulators. This section setsclear obligations for persons in management or control of landon which a system is located. These changes introducenew duties for the operation and maintenance of systemsfrom 1 July 2022, including a duty to notify localgovernment of system failures; a duty to keep maintenancerecords; a requirementto respond to problems; and the abilityfor local government to order maintenanceof a system, if it poses a risk to humanhealth or the environment or is not in goodworking order.This table shows youthe requirements for a personin management or control regarding where events arise and where an infringementnotice maybe issued. This table shows you therequirements for a landowner. You will see that, for eachof these landowner requirements, an offence applies and an infringement noticecan be issued. Prescribed fees are outlinedin appendix 2 of the toolkit. These have been setin accordance with the Departmentof Treasury and Finance’s cost recovery guidelinesand informed by public comment. Councils may retain the feesfor these permits or permit-exemptionapplications. The regulations also allowa council to reduce or waive these fees, if it is satisfiedthat it is reasonable to do so. All councils receiveddetailed information on feesfrom the EPA last year, and this informationis included in the toolkit. Why do you now requirea delegation from the EPA, when you didn’t needone in the past? There are a few key reasons.The delegation ensuresthat councils have clear and unambiguous powers thatare essential to their role: for example,powers of entry and inspection. The delegation also ensuresthat a council officer can issue the noticeordering maintenance; this notice can only be issuedby an authorised officer under the EnvironmentProtection Act. The delegationalso allows councils to access the powers ofthe general environmental duty, which is the cornerstoneof the new act. There may be situationswhere the regulations cannot address an impactor harm to human health and the environment:for example, where there is negligenceon behalf of a person manufacturingor installing a system, which gives rise to a risk tohuman health or the environment. Another example might be wherea system is operating in the way that it was designed toand being adequately maintained but, nonetheless, gives riseto risks to human health and the environment.While we have donemuch to prepare, both the EPA and councilswill be learning as they go, applying the generalenvironmental duty. The model for the delegation, which we understand councilsare familiar with, has been endorsedby the EPA’s governing board and is a twostep process. The first step is thatthe EPA’s governing board makes a delegation, and the second stepis that councils then appoint their employeesas authorised officers. This gives councilsthe flexibility to appoint appropriate rolesand numbers of council officers to their situation. The instrument of delegationis well progressed, and we expect signoffin early June. A draft is availablefor councils to review. If you would liketo review the draft, please place a messageto that effect in the chat, and we will follow upwith you afterwards.It is importantthat you are aware of the limitationsof the delegation. Councils cannot directlyprosecute non-compliance with an improvementor prohibition notice; they will need to refer thisto the EPA for follow-up. The EPA is developingthe referral process currently and will communicate thisto councils before 1 July. The second limitationis that councils can only appoint employees or a class of employeesas authorised officers, and it is our understanding that this does notinclude contractors. You should seek legal adviceif you have questions on this. The EPA has heard councilfeedback that these limitations present significantoperational challenges and may impact on how councilsuse these delegated powers. We have been workingwith our colleagues at DEWLP to explore options foraddressing these limitations. The EPA has preparedthe following generic templates for your use:the notice ordering maintenance; the improvement notice;the prohibition notice; and, for each of the above, a version that can be usedfor any amendments.The toolkit describesthese notices and when they can be used, but it does not includethe templates. The templates will be emailed tocouncils directly later in May. We know that you will wantto know where the revenuefrom penalties goes. Councils can retain penaltiesfor an offence under part 4, which is the ‘permissioning’part of the act. These include offences forengaging in a permitted activity without a permit and for breachof permit conditions.Penalties for other offencesunder the regulations go to consolidated funds. This information aboutassessment standards was shared with councils recently,and here is a quick reminder. The requirement for an onsitewastewater treatment plant to meet appropriatestandards set by EPA, evidenced by a certificateissued by an assessment body, will continueunder the new framework. These standards are set out currently in the wastewatercode of practice; but, from 1 July 2021, they willbe continued in the regulations. In highly exceptionalcircumstances involving innovative onsitewastewater treatment plants, the EPA may granta permit applicant an exemption from thiscertificate requirement, under section 459 of the act. More information aboutthe appropriate standards and the transitioninto the new framework can be found via the linkon this slide. To recap, there are lots ofresources available to you, and here are someof the key ones. You can read the regulations; you’ll be able to readthe toolkit next week, when it’s available; you can subscribe to the EPA’slocal government bulletin to help stay in touchwith any updates; and the EPA has also prepareda fact sheet to help owner/occupiersand councils, and this will be coming when the regulationsare finalised later in May.We now have time for questions.We will start by addressing the five most popularpre-submitted questions that we received throughyour registrations. Then, in our allotted time,we will take as many questions as we canfrom the live audience. I would just remind you, please, to use the up-voting featureto help to ensure that we answer the most popularof your questions. I remind you that this Q&A relates to onsite wastewatermanagement systems. Will Mosley:Thanks for that, Clare. Clare Moran:Thanks, Will. Will Mosley: The firstpre-loaded question is: will the new laws haveany effect on the requirements of council’s domestic wastewatermanagement plans or SEPP waters? Clare Moran:Thanks, Will. When the amended EPA Actcommences on 1 July 2021, SEPPs and WMPs will ceaseto have formal legal status in Victoria’s new environmentprotection framework. Some of the content in SEPPshas been translated into more fit-for-purposesubordinate instruments: for example,environmental reference standards and regulations. A limited numberof clauses in SEPP waters will also remainin force for up to two years, up to 30 June 2023, under the environment protectiontransitional regulation.This includes clause 29,which requires councils to develop a domesticwastewater management plan. I think, to paraphrase that,it does not sound as though there are any changesto the requirements for domestic wastewater management plansin the short term. Will Mosley:Thanks, Clare. The secondpre-loaded question is: how do I choosewhich enforcement path to follow for a wastewatermanagement system that has an offsite discharge? Clare Moran:Part C of the toolkit explains how councils can regulate risksand impacts from systems, under Victoria’s keypreventative environmental law, the general environmental duty.Appendix 3 of the toolkit provides an investigationflow chart that lays outthe options available.Will Mosley:Are you ready for question 3? Clare Moran: Yes. Will Mosley:After 1 July, how would these homeownersfind out what their duties are? Clare Moran: The EPA,in consultation with the MAV onsite wastewater managementsystems working group, developed a fact sheet forowners and occupiers of land. It will be published in the nextfew weekslater in May, we expectand councilscan refer and link to this guidanceon the EPA’s website. Will Mosley: Question 4: what powers of entrydo officers have in conducting onsite wastewatermanagement system inspections? Clare Moran: Appendix 7in the toolkit lists, in detail, the powers of entryof an authorised officer. These are fairly standardspowers of entry and, when certainconditions are met, they allow entryto residential premises.Will Mosley:Question 5: when council officershave great ideas about how to makethe application of a wonderful new piece oflegislation faster and smoother in order to improve air,water and land quality, in what ways can the EPA assistto make this happen, when resources, such as finance,research and expertise, are stretched? Clare Moran: This questionsounds like something that we could channelthrough the MOU that we are developing with MAV.I think both the EPA and MAV would be willingto hear these ideas, provided that they werewithin the scope of the MOU, which is the EPA, the MAV and local governmentsupporting each other in our jointregulatory roles. Will Mosley:Thanks, Clare. So we are donewith the pre-loaded questions. One question coming outfrom the chat is: can you please clearly explainhow the GED is supposed to work for homeownerswith split septic systems, in terms of their discharginginto the environment? Clare Moran: Thanks, Will.I hope that the presentationhas gone some way to answering this question. The GED requiresthat the person managing or in control of a system,including an older system, take all reasonablypracticable steps to make sure that the systemdoes not pose a risk to human healthor the environment. The key tools arethe improvement notice and the prohibition notice. Part C of the toolkit, underthe general environmental duty, explains in detail how councilscan regulate the risks and impacts of systems. Will Mosley:Thanks very much, Clare. I believe that completesall of the questions that we have so far. Do you have onethat I don’t have? Clare Moran: I have one, yes. Will Mosley: Yes, I can seemore questions now. The first question is: is therea legislative requirement for an owner or operatorof a system to submit regular maintenancereports to council? Clare Moran: Thank you, experts,for helping to answer these. There is a new requirementfor landowners to keep maintenance recordsfor five years; for example, these mightbe pumping-out records.If council requeststo see such a record, the landownerswill be required to make it availablefor inspection. Will Mosley:One more question: are onsite wastewatermanagement systems without a permit still able tobe used under the new regime? Clare Moran:The short answer is yes. Old systems that were notsubject to a permit when they were installedcan still be used under the new environmentprotection framework. Thank you so much, everyone,for all those questions. We will assumethat we have been able to answer quite a few of themthrough the presentation. We will now concludethis section about onsite wastewatermanagement systems and move onto my colleague Will Mosley, who will talk aboutregulating residential noise. Will Mosley: It’s time for oursecond session of the morning, which will be regulatingresidential noise under the new act, the EnvironmentProtection Act 2017.As Clare has said previously,my name is Will Mosley. I am an OPLE. I worked previouslyat Casey City Council and am working currentlyat Whittlesea City Council. In my past four yearsin this role, I have hadextensive experience working with environmentalhealth officers, planning enforcement officers and other council officersto regulate, assess and resolveresidential noise complaints. In terms of today’s sessionon residential noise, there are three keytake-aways. The first is that,like septic systems, the scope of the council’s roleas a regulator has not really changedall that much; however, the laws and powersthat you will apply when regulating residentialnoise have changed slightly. Lastly, the EPAis working to produce, and has already produced, a wealth of materialsto help local government in being ready to regulateresidential noise by 1 July. What has actually changed? The EPA’s main changewith the 2017 act is that it is gearing towardsa preventative approach. In the past,under the 1970 act, we had a responsive approachto pollution and waste. Now we want to make sure that all Victoriansare obligated to work to reduce their risk of harmbefore it actually happens.This is mainly encapsulated inthe general environmental duty. For those of youwho are interested in the general environmentalduty in more detail, there will be a webinaron 26 May, which will includea deep dive into the duty, and I encourage you to go aheadand sign up for that. Also changed is the definitionof ‘unreasonable noise’. Firstly, under the 1970 act, the definition of ‘unreasonablenoise’ was somewhat ambiguous, and we’ve worked hard to makesure that, under the new act, it is clear and hasqualitative characteristics that can be measuredobjectively by council officers; secondly, in the new act,related offences, such as ’emittingunreasonable noise’ and infringement offences,have also changed; thirdly, in the new act,we have a great new tool, which is the residentialnoise improvement notice, and we expect thatthis will bridge the gap left previouslyin past legislation and be excellentin helping council officers to get to the root cause in resolving residentialnoise issues; and, lastly, underthe new legislation, the way in whichresidential construction noise is treated has changedsignificantly, and you will now beusing delegations from the EPA to council to investigateand regulate noise from residential construction, which we can talka little more about later on.Like septics and litter,the EPA has worked hard to produce a localgovernment toolkit related to regulatingresidential noise. We expect this toolkit to beyour go-to resourceyour Bible, if you willwhen you are outin the field or planning to conductan investigation into a residential noisecomplaint. The toolkitwill have information on powers and enforcement toolsavailable to you; penalty structures; some strategiesand enforcement action to reduce harm; methodology forassessing unreasonable noise; and some case studies wherethe above have been applied in real life. You can see a linkto the toolkit here. The toolkit was publishedformally, officially, yesterday and is availableon the EPA’s website. The toolkit has undergoneextensive development, beginning whenthe draft environment protection regulations were released for commentin September 2019. Council provided significantfeedback on those regulations, which the EPA then incorporatedinto the final version. The toolkit was thenborn of those regulations, and the draft versionwas submitted to 10 councils for further feedback.All of this has goneinto making this toolkit your go-to resource, and we believe that it willanswer all questions that you have come 1 July and make you readyto regulate noise. Additional to the toolkitwill be other guidelines that provide more detailon specific topics; the first to come will beassessing noise from residential equipment. Those of you who are familiarwith publication 1254, otherwise known as the noisecontrol guidelines, will be familiar with section1 of this new guideline, which has been redrafted.This time, the focus will be onthe use of noise characteristics as a determining factorwhen thinking about compliance: is it too loud,when does it happen and what impact is it havingon the complainant? It will be characteristicslike those. However, these toolkitswill still have advice on how to undertake measurements using handheld metersand the like. As I mentioned previously, in terms of the localgovernment’s role in regulating residential noise,not much has changed. Local governmentis still responsible primarily for regulatingresidential noise from residential premises, as well as noisefrom construction and demolition of residential premises.The EPA is still responsibleprimarily for regulating industrial, commercial and tradepremises noise, as well as entertainment venues. The Victoria Policesit between the two, assisting local government in regulatingresidential premises noise and assisting the EPA in regulating entertainmentvenue noise. Here we have an overviewof the sections of the new act that relate tounreasonable noise. Sitting above all isthe general environmental duty, which applies to all Victoriansengaging in any activity that may give rise to riskof harm to human health and the environment.As I said earlier, there will bea webinar on the GED that will provide detail, so go aheadand please sign up for that. Under the GED,you have specific sections relating to unreasonablenoise and offences. Primarily, for residentialnoise, it is section 167. You then have a whole suiteof powers and enforcement tools that council officers and Victoria Policecan make use of in taking actionagainst unreasonable noise from residential premises.We also have, as in the past, the regulationswhich support the act. In the regulations,you will find schedules that list prescribed items and prohibited timesfor those items. I will give a little moreabout the act in detail. Part 7.6 relates primarilyto unreasonable noise. In part 7.6,you will find section 167, as I mentioned before,which creates the offence of permitting or causingunreasonable noise to be emitted froma residential premise. Section 171 also relatesto the appointment of residential noiseenforcement officers, or what we willbe calling RNEOs.Section 170 empowers RNEOsto take proceedings for offences against unreasonable noise. Further down in the act,you will find section 307, which relates tohow council officers may issue infringement notices for offencesof unreasonable noise. Like in the past, the act gives the powerto councils and Victoria Police to appoint residential noiseenforcement officers or RNEOs. Those of you who are currentlyauthorised under the old act will be familiarwith section 48A(1), and your powers will besimilar in function and appointmentto the old section. It should be noted that,under section 48A(1), there is the transitionprovision whereby all thosewho are authorised already will have no needto be reappointed and, instead, will beappointed automatically when the new act comes in. I will talk in a little moredetail about unreasonable noise’ The concept of ‘unreasonablenoise’ has changed. Under the 1970 act,it was ambiguous, and it was often difficultfor council officers to know how to makea decision about what was and was not ‘unreasonable’.This time around, the definitionof ‘unreasonable noise’ in section 3 of the actis detailed. For those of you familiarwith the Public Health and Wellbeing Act,this will look familiar, but the characteristicsof unreasonable noise have been well explained and are further backed upin the toolkit. This time, we are thinkingabout things like volume, intensity, duration,when it is emitted and its impact onthe complainant or the reporter, as well as prescribed factors. The definition of ‘unreasonablenoise’ in the new act means that noise can beconsidered unreasonable based on any oneof those factors or a combinationof those factors, and that it does not needto meet all of those factors at once in orderto be considered unreasonable. You still have the old pathwaywhereby noise is emitted from an item that is prescribedin the regulations, and it is emittedduring a time that is prohibitedin the regulations for that prescribed item.Also, if it is heardin a habitable room of a complainant’s residence, you would consider itto be unreasonable. We still have that pathway,but we want to make it clear that any noise emittedfrom residential premises, whether or notfrom a prescribed item, can still be consideredunreasonable, if it meetsthe other characteristics in the definitionof ‘unreasonable noise’. Fear not though; the toolkitwill be your best friend. You might not be able to seeit here in any great detail, but the toolkit providesa decision tree that will assist councilofficers in making a decision about whether or not noiseis unreasonable. It should give youthe confidence that you may havelacked in the past about making such decisions. So, as soon as you can, grab a copy of the toolkitand have a look. The EPA’s preferred approach toregulating unreasonable noise and all pollutionand waste matters is shown here in this slide.We choose a graduated approach, starting with guidanceand support, only escalating to thingslike court injunctions or prosecutionas a last resort.We would hope that the councilfollow a similar tactic, when regulatingunreasonable noise from residential premisesand construction noise. However, we know that,under the 1970 act, there was a bit of a gap in how you wouldescalate up this pyramid. You had the 72hour noisedirection and not much else, before escalating upto the prosecution stage. This time around, we have the residential noiseimprovement notice. You can see it there, smack dabin the middle of the pyramid. We believe that this will be anincredibly useful tool for you. By serving a residential noiseimprovement notice, when you find an offenceof unreasonable noise occurring, you will be ableto set the standards for the residentemitting the noise and require that residentto do certain things or undertake certain action. If they comply withthe residential noise improvement notice, great;you have solved the issue. But, if they do not, you are going to havea clear basis on which to escalate further up the chainof compliance enforcement and eventually to prosecution,should you need to.We want to confirm today that councils will receiverevenue from penalties associatedwith unreasonable noise from the following offences: unreasonable noisefrom residential premises; non-compliance witha residential noise improvement notice; and non-compliance with an’unreasonable noise’ direction. I will talk a little now aboutresidential construction noise. Under the new act, noisefrom residential construction or demolition will not be treatedin the same way as unreasonable noisefrom residential premises.However, councils will stillretain the power to act against noisefrom residential construction through a delegationof powers from the EPA. The EPA will delegate the powerto appoint officers, under certain sections ofthe Environment Protection Act, which will give themcertain powers. These officerswill be different from residential noiseenforcement officers and will have differentpowers of entry, but the primary powerwill be the ability to investigate offencesagainst the GED, or unreasonable noisemore broadly, in section 166.As I have mentioned, you willhave specific powers of entry when authorised underthis part of the act; and you will have the powerto issue improvement noticesand prohibition notices, when you find offencesoccurring. The powers of council officers authorised under this partof the act are further explainedin the toolkit. I want to make it clear that,when there is non-compliance with improvement noticesor prohibition notices, as council officers,you will not have the power to take proceedingsin connection with these offencesdirectly; you will need to workwith the EPA. The EPA is workingcurrently to streamline that process to enable it to work effectivelybetween both agencies. Lastly, I just want to mention that the EPA is working tomake things a little bit easier for you guysin terms of the notices. We have preparedand will be delivering templates for the following: the residential noiseimprovement notice; the improvement noticeand the prohibition notice, which is served when offencesagainst the GED occur; and templates for the amendedversions of the above notices. That’s it for the presentation.Now we are just goingto move to questions again, starting withpre-loaded questions that have already beensent through to us. I have Tim Rose here with me. Tim Rose: Good morning,everyone. Will Mosley: He is an expertin everything ‘noise’. Tim Rose: I’m not quite sureabout that, Will, but we’ll give itour best shot. Will Mosley: Tim will beanswering questions for us today. The firstpre-loaded question is: what guidance will beavailable to councils? Tim Rose: Thanks, Will. As you’ve clearly notedthrough your presentation this morningwe thinkit is worth just fleshing it outa bit furtherobviously, the toolkit will be,as you’ve noted, a really great resourcefor councils involved in dealing with noiseissues in their municipalities. We really hopethat this document becomes the go-to guidefor deciphering and unpacking the frameworkunder the EPA Act 2017, in relation to noiseand the offences and compliance processesassociated with that and, obviously,the change in relation to constructionand demolition noise.It provides practical tipsand advice for council officers on how they can investigatenoise complaints, using the risk-basedcompliance framework of the act. In particular,it provides case studies that highlight the impactsof unreasonable noise, so we do hopethat will be useful. I also just want to flesh outa little more about the ‘assessing noise fromresidential equipment’ guide. Many council officerswill be very familiar with using our noisecontrol guideline document, which has been aroundfor a number of years now. We have decided to try tomake it a bit more user-friendly by breaking it up over time into smaller packaged piecesof information and material. The first onethat we’ve chosen to do, to line up with the releaseof the regulations, is assessing noisefrom residential equipment. We know that assessing noisefrom residential equipment, like air conditioners,can often be somewhat complex, and we know that informationis useful to councils. As you have pointed out, Will, the focus of the entireregulatory scheme is really about dealingwith potential impacts before they occur,very much looking at what the characteristicsof unreasonable noise are, and using thatwithin the compliance and enforcement approach.So that is whatthe fact sheet goes into, and it will be released soon. For those councils seeking touse a more quantitative approach to assessing noise, it maintains the existingmeasurement criteria for residential equipment, which we already usein the noise control guideline; that will still be thereas an option, stepping outhow that is used. Will Mosley:What advice is available about the use of residentialnoise provisions of the EPA Act 2017versus the nuisance provisions found in the Public Healthand Wellbeing Act 2008? Tim Rose: Thanks, Will. We know that councilsare very familiar with using the Public Healthand Wellbeing Act to deal with noise issues, and they use the nuisanceprovisions within the act. Potentially, in manyrespects over time, perhaps they havepreferred to use that act as a compliance toolrather than using the EP Act. We want to continue to stress that both actsobviously continue to be completely reasonableand separate pathways to use for dealing withlocal community noise.One act does notoverride the other. Really, the new act, regulationsand associated guidance that we have put together seek to improve the effectivenessand efficiency of our framework, particularly in dealingwith sources of noise that are not clearly outlinedin the regulations and, in particular, those wherescenarios occur during the day, which are often a bitcomplex to deal with. But, again, the regulationsremain largely the same, and they continue to providea simple framework for dealing with a significantnumber of the sources of noise that cause nuisancein a residential setting. On the issue of whether usingthe EP Act and regulations to resolveresidential noise issues meets the dutyto investigate, under the Public Healthand Wellbeing Act, councils will probablyneed to consider their own advice on that.But both compliancepathways ultimately are about investigating and resolvingresidential noise issues. Will Mosley:Thanks, Tim; that’s insightful. Question 3 of thepre-loaded questions asks: is there any provision aroundcommercial construction sites? Tim Rose:Yes, that’s a good question. Thanks, Will, and thanksto those who are interested in knowinga bit more about this. What is important to understandand remember is that the provisionsfor construction noise are the same as thosefor residential and commercial sites.The proposed delegation relates purely to residentialconstruction noise. The new GED framework is,we believe, best placed to deal with these sorts of sources ofnoise in terms of construction. Really, precisely why we haverestructured the definition of ‘residential premises’in the EP Act 2017 is to allow the useof a modern and flexible non-source-specificregulatory tool, such as the GED, which focuses on preventingnoise impacts before they occur. Will Mosley:Thanks, Tim. Question 4:councils say that they need, and are requesting, more clarityabout what constitutes noise from residentialconstruction sites. Is it sites thatare under construction, in accordance witha building permit, or could it be properties that are undertakinga renovation or upgrade? Tim Rose: Thank you.We’ve dealt specifically withthat issue in the new toolkit, and we’ve provideda clear delineation between what isconsidered to be, I guess, renovation, and what is consideredto be full demolition and constructionof a new premises. Hopefully, that advice will berelatively clear and concise. Will Mosley:Yes, go ahead and grab the toolkitas soon as you can. Question 5: if councils choosenot to opt in to the new act and the new methodof regulating residential noise, can the EPA referthe public to, and direct them to check,the relevant municipal laws? Tim Rose: Certainly, the EPAwill continue to refer residentialnoise pollution reports to local government,as they do now; so that situationwon’t change, irrespective of whether councilsopt in to the delegation.Will Mosley:Thanks, Tim. A number of questionshave come in from the chatduring the presentation, so we will try to get throughas many of them as we possibly canin the time that we have left. The first question is: are the guidelines linkedto any enforceable legislation? The guidelines arevery difficult to enforce, without links back to the actor enforceable legislation. Relying on other actsthat is,the Public Health and Wellbeing Actisnot appropriate, as they have differentrequirements for proof.Tim Rose: Absolutely. In effect, the guidance linksback to our framework. At the end of the day, the guidance that we havewritten supports the application of the EP Actand the regulations, in relation toresidential construction noise, and the options for complianceand enforcement under that legislation. In itself, the guidance does nothave any particular status, other than what we refer to asa state-of-knowledge document, in general, under the act. Will Mosley:Thank you, Tim. Question: will this applyonly to residential premises, or can it be appliedto commercial uses within a residential areaor zone, such as a hotel? I’m not sure what they’retalking about in this question; they may be talkingabout construction noise. Tim Rose: Maybe the best wayto answer that question would just be to saythat, again, the very deliberate changesthat we have made to the definitionof ‘unreasonable noise’ have been to harmonisethe way in which we dealwith construction noise, whether it comesfrom residential premises or a commercial-sizepremises.In this instance, the delegationspecifically relates to residential premises, and who knows whatthe future holds in terms of how that might bemanaged going forward. But, indeed, the act and the wayin which the noise framework has been structuredcertainly seeks to be somewhat blind to the magnitude,if you like, or type of location from which those sourcesof noise might be emitted. It is aboutwhat those sources are and how they are being managed. Will Mosley:Thanks, Tim. Again on this question:if the source of noise is commercialin a residential area, could you usethe residential noise sections or provisions of the actto regulate it? Tim Rose: I would probably haveto take that one on notice; I’m not a hundredper cent sure. Ultimately, if it isresidential premises, as defined by the definition,that is how it would apply. But I’m happy to consider,on notice, the other optionsor considerations.Will Mosley: Some commentsin the back end say that, if it were, say,a hotel or motel that was causing noisein a residential area, that would be consideredto be commercial noise. Tim Rose: Yes, it would. Will Mosley: We have morequestions coming in. This question is: there has beenno mention of noise that is emittedfrom farming zones. How would these noisesbe regulated; are they residential,commercial or industrial? Tim Rose: Effectively, noisefrom a farming zone in regional Victoria is capturedby the transition of ‘noise from industry’. If we are talkingabout residential premises on a farming property, obviously it comes inunder these provisions. But, if we are talking aboutthe farming activity itself, it comes in under commercial,industrial and trade noise and is dealt within other sections of the act. Will Mosley:Thanks, Tim. One question coming in is: I am concerned aboutthe introduction of the word ‘annoyance’ in the act;can further clarity be provided regarding what is consideredto be an annoyance? Tim Rose: Effectively,the characteristics of the definitionof ‘unreasonable noise’ are what has set,if you like, the framingfor the consideration of the source of noisethat you are dealing with.The toolkit goesinto some detail about the ways in which thosecharacteristics can be defined, so I’d certainly encourageeveryone to have a look at the toolkitand consider ‘annoyance’within such contexts. Will Mosley:Thank you very much, Tim. We have some further informationcoming in. Tim Rose: This is almostthe live-streaming of questions. I was a little concerned,though, because I did notactually think ‘annoyance’ was in the act; I’m not actually surethat it is, but we can double-checkthat later. Will Mosley:Thanks very much, Tim. I think we will move on, as that was the lastof the questions that we had coming infrom the live stream. Now I will pass overto Clare Moran, who will introduceour next speaker. Clare Moran: Thank you, Will,and thank you, Tim. There were lotsof questions there, and it is greatto see lots of interest. Now I will hand overto my colleague Clare Dawson. She is going to take us through the third partof our webinar are today, which is about regulating litterand other waste.Thanks, Clare. Clare Dawson:Hello. My name is Clare Dawson. I work in the EPA’stransformation program, preparing for the newEnvironment Protection Act. I would like to thank youfor joining us today; it’s really great thatwe’ve got such great numbers. I have been in contactwith quite a number of you over the last 18 months, during the developmentof the three toolkits that we are talkingabout today. I would like to thankparticularly those people in council who have provided feedbackto us during that period. That feedback has beenincredibly helpful for making those publicationsbetter and, hopefully, those publication will be reallygood tools for you in your jobs.I will be talking todayabout regulating litter and other waste, underthe new act and regulations. These new laws replacethe current litter provisions in the 1970 act, which many of youwill be quite familiar with. The key thingsthat you need to knowthis area is similar to the othersthat we have been discussingare that the council’s role, as a regulator of litterand other waste, has not really changed; and the role and definitionof ‘litter authorities’ and ‘litter enforcementofficers’ remain similar. The EPA, councilsand other public entities, notably Parks Victoria,are all litter authorities that can employ staffas litter enforcement officers. But the laws and powershave changed a little bit, and we will gothrough those today. Also, of course, there arenew materials and resources to help you regulatefrom 1 July.The key things that have changedin the litter and illegal dumping space are that there aregreater penalties for dangerous litter and largervolumes of dumped waste, and there are clearer powersand better enforcement tools for litter authoritiesand litter enforcement officers. The aim of the new frameworkis to discourage littering and illegal dumping,protect people and the environment from harm and supportliveable communities; these resources will help youin your role in this. The key resource, of course,is the toolkit, regulating litterand other waste. This is guidance for councilsand other litter authorities on how to apply the new litterand other waste laws. It goes throughprevention strategies and enforcement action, and how they worktogether to reduce littering and illegal dumping; it includes case studiesfrom councils and our officersfor the protection of the local environment;and it updates and modernises the existinglitter enforcement toolkit.Many of you will be familiarwith this publication, which is on the EPA website; it has been there since 2014,so this is an update. Also, of course, the new lawscovered by the toolkit apply from 1 July. Development of the toolkit hasbeen about an 18month process. The EPA worked witha number of council officers who volunteered to help through the Litter EnforcementOfficer Network, which is coordinated byKeep Victoria Beautiful. Through that network, a numberof council officers assisted us.We conducted a workshopback in January 2020, and those council officersshared with us what they liked aboutthe current toolkit, what they would liketo see improved and what they wanted to seein the new publication. Through the draftingof that publication, we got a lot of feedback fromthat group, which was great, and it was publishedback in December last year. We will now get into talkingabout the new laws. There are a number of topicsin the waste chapter of the newEnvironmental Protection Act. The key onethat litter authorities can enforce is part 6.3, and that is litterand other waste. This graphic here showshow part 6.4, specifically, is implementedby litter authorities, including the EPA, councilsand other litter authorities, such as Parks Victoria. The EPA does this by providing apublic reporting-litter hotline, an app, where membersof the public can report litter deposited from vehicles. The EPA also investigatesillegal dumping of industrial, hazardousand large quantities of waste, and it investigatessuspected repeat or organised illegal dumping issues.The EPA can use part6.4 of the act, which we have beentalking about, and it also hasadditional powers, under the industrialwaste laws. Councils and otherlitter authorities also have the same powersunder part 6.4, and they can investigateand take action regarding litter offences and also larger scaleillegal dumping. Litter and illegal dumping,as you know, is a big problemin our community, and a combined regulatory effortof the EPA, councils and other litter authoritiesis essential to tackling it. I will just bringthis definition up. Here we havethe new definition of ‘waste’ under the newEnvironment Protection Act. It is a pretty generaland broad definition, and you can read it,of course, in the actand also in the toolkit. We see a change regardingthe definition of ‘litter’. Litter fits into the act’sbroad definition of ‘waste’, but it is nowa volume-based definition and it means waste of lessthan 50 litres in volume.Here we go;these are some graphics to show you what that mightroughly look like, as a point of reference. The main offences,under part 6.3 of the act, are for the unlawfuldeposit of waste. The deposit of waste occurswhen a person parts with possessionof litter or other waste; this can includethe burning of waste and where waste blows, falls or escapesfrom a premises or place. As for the offences,section 115 is the key there. The offences are broken upby volume of waste and, in the case of dangerous litter,by type of waste. Here we have highlightedthe four different key offences for ‘litter’and ‘dangerous litter’: 50 to 1,000 litresof unlawfully deposited waste and morethan 1,000 litres. These are all infringementoffences, which can also be prosecutedin the Magistrates Court. Now that we’ve gotthese volume-based offences, estimating the volume of wastein an illegal deposit will be key to investigating. To work outwhich offence may apply, LEOs will need to investigatethe volume of waste or the total volume ofa connected series of deposits, which the act also allows for, and a number of resourcesin the toolkit will help you to do that.In some instances, with smallervolumes of littersay, a couple of itemsit is going to be pretty obvious that it is less than 50 litres.But, where you have waste that could be aroundthose threshold amounts, tipping over 50 or just underor over 1,000, accurate measurementswill be required. As I have said,the toolkit has a number of great resourcesaround measuring and making calculations,so please have a look at it. We will go and have a lookat the penalties associated with each ofthe offences under section 115. For ‘littering’of less than 50 litres, there are large penaltiesin there now. The court offencesand infringement offences are divided up:for an individual, you can see thatthe infringement amount is two penalty units; and, for a body corporateor company, the amount is10 penalty units so.That is how theyare shown there. Also, a person must notdeposit dangerous litter, and that is a higher offence. We will just look at what’dangerous litter’ actually is. ‘Dangerous litter’ means litter,again, less than 50 litres, that is ‘whollyor partly comprised of one of the following’. This is the definitionfrom the act. You can see pictures hereof glass, syringes, cigarettes, solvents, paintsand those kinds of things. In addition to these wasteitems, it is any substance, material or thing prescribedby the regulations. As for how that works, under the new environmentprotection regulations, priority wastes are listed inschedule 5 of the regulations. Generally, the EPA regulatespriority wastes.But, where they areunlawfully deposited in volumes of less than 50 litresand from an industrial source, they are consideredto be ‘dangerous litter’, and litter authorities,including councils, can take enforcement action. This is now oneof the larger offences: 50 to 1,000 litres. As you can see,we now have these larger and more proportionate penaltiesassociated with these offences. That is what it might look likein terms of volume: a few wheelie bins. Here we have morewheelie binshere we gowith morethan 1,000 litres, which is the largest offence. You can see muchgreater penalties there and infringement of up to $8,000for a body corporate or company. Many of you here todayare appointed currently as litterenforcement officers. That appointment will roll overor transition automatically under the newEnvironment Protection Act. If you are currently appointedas a litter enforcement officer, you do not needto be reappointed. It is only new officersafter 1 July who will need to be appointedspecifically under the newEnvironment Protection Act.The powers of litterenforcement officers are fairly similarto what they have been. Officers can be appointedby litter authorities; so councils, of course,can appoint staff as litter enforcement officers, be that in your local lawsarea or other areas. Such officers have powersunder the act to enforce the litterand other waste laws. Litter enforcement officers include EPA-authorisedofficers and police. In terms of jurisdiction,the EPA and the police have state-wide powersto take action under part 6.4. Council LEOs can actwithin their municipal area; and LEOs from other litterauthorities, like Parks Victoria,can act in relation to lands under the managementor control of the agency.You will see that, for councils, that is a changein the definition, and it shouldgive you more clarity as to your jurisdictionaround litter and waste. The powers, again, are not dissimilarto the current powers. There are powers of entryto non-residential premises. A LEO can ask for a person’sname and address, in relationto a litter offence, and they can requestthat a person remove waste. There are two new notices: the waste informationgathering notice, and the waste abatement notice; I will talk a littleabout those in a moment. There are infringementsassociated with unlawful deposit of waste,which I have already mentioned, and there are alsoinfringements associated with non-compliancefor those other things, like requesting a personto remove waste and non-compliancewith the notices. The waste informationgathering notice can be used by a litter enforcement officer to obtain informationabout waste that they believehas been unlawfully deposited.It allows a LEOto collect evidence that may be usedto take enforcement action; and, as I said, it is an offencenot to comply with this notice. It is similar to the 45ZI, which you would be familiarwith currently, if you work in this area. Then we havethe waste abatement notice. This is similar tothe litter abatement notice but, of course,it can be used across all different types of waste.It can be used to manage waste, or materialthat may become waste, and to ensure that it isdeposited in a lawful way. It can require a personwho deposited the waste to clean up and restore a placethat has been impacted by waste, to lawfully disposeof the waste or to change their activitiesto better manage the waste. It can also requirethe occupier of a premises to clean up or disposeof the waste, in a situation wherethe responsible person cannot be located.As in the other presentations, I am showing you herethe EPA’s escalating approach, which we recommend,to taking enforcement action. You can see those complianceand enforcement tools therethe notices, infringementsand so forthbut ‘education and prevention’ is alwaysthe best starting point. In addition to the EnvironmentProtection Act, the environmentprotection regulations, which will shortly be made, add some additional offencesin the litter and waste space.Some of these offenceswill be quite familiar to you. Largely, they have beencarried over from the currentEnvironment Protection Act; however,instead of being in the act, they are nowin the regulations. They include defacing,setting fire or damaging a bin, depositing or affixingunsolicited documents, and commissioningand engaging in distributionof unsolicited documents. As with the act,litter enforcement officers and litter authoritiescan take action in relation to these offences,under the regulations. Just as we have notice templates for residential noiseand septics, we also have them for youto use for litter and waste: the waste informationgathering notice and the waste abatement notice.I have here, if you can see it, the front cover of the wasteinformation gathering notice; it has a few additional pages.In the top right-hand corner, there is a place where councilscan tailor these notices by adding their own logos,contact details and so forth.These are very similarin substance and in look to the wasteinformation gathering notice and waste abatement notice that the EPA will alsobe using after 1 July. Penalties for offencesare retained by council, under part 6.3 of the act. I am going to talk now aboutthe EPA’s Waste Crime Prevention directorate,which is a new directorate. This team has asked me to conveya bit of information about who they are, what they doand how you can work with them.The new Waste CrimePrevention directorate was created to reducerisk of harm to the environment and the communitythrough effective prevention, detection and enforcementagainst waste crimes. It has three units: a complianceand enforcement unit, which has a numberof multidisciplinary teams; a waste crime programs unit, which has strategic programsaround prevention, surveillance, intelligence,planning and projects; and a chemical wasteand recyclable materials complianceand enforcement unit, which is focusedon regulating businesses whose operationsmay pose a fire risk, and generally these willbe larger businesses that may have a councilplanning permit and will probably have an EPApermission under the new act. As for how you can workwith this team or directorate, please report informationto the EPA about: multiple dumpingsof industrial waste or things like asbestos-contaminated material and, also, where that dumpingmay be happening between local government areas; evidence of stockpilingof waste on properties, which might be with orwithout a council permit; skip-bin waste managementor chemical storage operations, which may havea waste-crime element that may have cometo your attention; known operatorswith a history of waste-crime dumping thatare known to your council; and any other informationthat you have around waste crime that you think would berelevant to the EPA.Members of this team have puttheir names down there. You can contact them, if you wish to report anythingor talk through any incidents. You could also contactyour EPA regional office or your OPLE, if your councilis lucky enough to have one. As for resources, the litterand waste toolkit is available, and hopefully a lot of youhave had a chance to read. There is our localgovernment bulletin, which the other presentershave mentioned. Also, there is a link hereto the EPA’s public reporting hotline, where you can report litterfrom vehicles; and a link to the website of the litterenforcement officer network, or LEON, which will be runningsome training on the new act, so you can go to the websitefor information there. That’s the endof this presentation. We have some questions and,while I am loading those up, I will introducemy co-host, Dru Marsh.Dru is a regulatory specialistand will be assisting us to answer your questionsaround litter and waste. Some of you have probably seenor heard from him in the past or recentlyaround the new act. Five questionswere pre-loaded. The first I will addressjust quickly. The question is:with councils that have OPLEs, will the OPLEs receive the samedelegations as council officers, particularly in relationto litter and waste? OPLEs were appointed bythe EPA’s authorised officers and, therefore,as authorised officers, all automaticallyhave the same powers of litter enforcement officers. So they don’t needany additional appointment, as they havethe same powers there. Then I have this question: has there been a material changeto the 45ZI process? I will passthat question to Dru.Dru Marsh:Thanks for that question, Clare. The short answer is no,there’s no real material change; it is really an update ortransfer of the existing power. What is different thoughis the infringement that is associatedwith non-compliance; it is a higher infringement. Essentially, we are saying therethat it is a serious issue, if you don’t answerthe notice as set out. So it is placinggreater importance on those who receive the noticeto participate in the importantinvestigation processes that you need to fulfilin order to administeryour part of the act. Clare Dawson:Thanks, Dru. The third question is: when will the templatesfor the notices be available? As with the other templatesthat we have been talking about for residential noiseand septics, we are going to send themdirectly to councils within the next couple of weeks.They are all doneand ready to go. We were just waitingfor the toolkits to be publishedto support them so that you havesome context for their use, and they will all be madeavailable directly. The next question is: are thereany changes to infringements for larger amountsof litter? Dru Marsh: Absolutely.This is a material change, and it really recognisesthe overlap that arises betweenthe responsibilities of councils and other organisationsfor addressing waste crime, litter,larger levels of dumping and the EPA’s ongoing rolewith coverage over the state of Victoria.What these offences really dois try to recognise that litter infringementunder the current act doesn’t really adequatelyaddress some of the larger scale dumping that occursacross Victoria. So these new classesof infringement, which are volume based,are really there to give councilsand other organisations, which have powers under new act,the ability to better tackle those crimesin a proportionate way. What this means is that, while there will still bean ongoing need for you to interact with the EPA, particularly where itconcerns industrial waste or there are moresystemic problems, for some of the larger volume dumping that occursroutinely in your areas, there are penalties that aremuch more proportionate to the scaleand impact of those offences. Clare Dawson:Thank you very much. The final questionthat was submitted prior to the session is: will litter abatementnotices still be used? Dru Marsh:The short answer is yes, but not by that name.The waste abatement noticeis the successor, if you like, but it really coversa lot of the same grounds. It applies to someone who hasdeposited the waste unlawfully. The scope of what you can dowith that is, of course, to require that the wastebe cleaned up and sent somewherethat can lawfully receive that type of waste. It also allows youto direct someone to restore the impacted area,which can be quite important where there’s an amenity valuethat has been harmed by the dumping of that waste. Then perhapseven more important, and more in keepingwith what the new act is really focused on, is an ability to issuedirections around modifying the behavioursand activities that actually caused the wasteto be dumped or deposited. That really gives officersan opportunity to take ona preventative approach. Particularly with routine issues that you see timeand time again, the notice will actuallyallow you to break that cycle in a way that can becompelled under the notice.Clare Dawson:Thanks, Dru. That ends the questionsthat we received previously. We have had a few come through,so thank you. I think a couple have beenanswered already in the chat. We have just coveredone of those questions, which is: what is the timeframe around the new template? We just had a chat about that.This is another question: what aboutwhen litter originates from a business activity? For example, where landownersprohibit smoking on their land, which causes cigarette-buttlitter on public land, or request donationsof clothing that are placed on public landrather than in a bin, can councils finethose landowners? Dru Marsh:The short answer is probably.It comes down to the offencesthat are set out in section 115. Provided that the elementsof the offence can be identifiedsuchas the deposit of litter, which is definedas being waste, of less than 50 litrestherewill be scope for you to be able to issuethose infringements. It would be the samewith cigarette butts. Judging by how the questionhas been framed, it sounds as though it would bewithin the scope of your powers. There is perhapsan additional element to that kind ofhazardous behaviour where you may also wantto inform the EPA, if you feel that there is a riskof harm associated with it. So it is probably importantto note that, while some of the challengesthat you face are better addressed by the newinfringementsparticularly those that arevolume-basedthere may still be cause for youto raise concerns with the EPA, particularly if you seesystemic problems that relate to creatinga risk of harm.That is because, of course,the general environmental duty is a concurrent obligationon businesses and will require themto eliminate risks of harm through their activities. The clothing bins, I think,are a bit of a perennial issue. Provided that you are ableto satisfy the volume-basedaspect of the bins, I think infringementswill be available there. Of course, given the natureof that context, you might want to havea conversation with those operatingthe bins as well because they obviously fulfilan important service; so there’s a bitof a balancing act as to how you exerciseyour discretion. But we recognise it as ‘dumping’or ‘unlawful deposit’, and there are probably stepsthat organisations responsible for those binscan take to reduce that risk.However, using infringementsmay be appropriate, particularly whereyou can obtain evidence of the commissionof those offences. So it is not outsideof the scope. I think, from an evidencepoint of view, there may be challenges in sustainingan infringement there; hence why solving the problemthrough consultation may be an additionalapproach to that issue. Clare Dawson: Thank you.We’ve got a question around what might be consideredto be ‘dangerous litter’. What about dumpedcar gas-tanks; is that consideredto be dangerous litter? Dru Marsh: Dangerous litterhas two components. A set of explicit categoriesof dangerous litter is set out in the act. As for the way that questionhas been placed, if the car gas-tankcontains residue, it may be regarded as fittingwithin the definition in the act. But, in thisparticular instance, I would also recommendthat you look at schedule 5, because priority wastesare also incorporated in the regulationsthrough ‘dangerous litter’. It may well bethat a container in which there isflammable residue may also be regardedas ‘dangerous litter’ within that definition.I think there is probablya question here around the most efficient wayof addressing the problem, and it may be more technicallychallenging to pursue that. It is a higher penalty;I think it is a bit over double the standardsection-115 offence. It will be up to youto decide what you think isthe most appropriate. But, if there is residuein the tank, I think there is probablya good starting point for characterising itas ‘dangerous litter’. Clare Dawson: Fantastic.We have one more question, which is aroundcigarette butts. It is: an unlit cigarette buttis not deemed to be dangerous; why is the fine so highfor something so small compared with other small items,such as a bag of dumped waste? Dru Marsh: The question goes tothe policy choices behind this. There is a level of pragmatism,and certainly cigarette butts are identifiedas ‘dangerous litter’ on the basisof their potential for contributingto bushfire events.However, that being said, there is probablya huge variety of matters that may well have beenexpressed in the act and certainly can beincluded down the line through the prescription optionunder the regulations. For the time being, in this first iterationof the act and its regulations, what we have doneis to translate what was an existing practiceinto the new approach. If, in the courseof administering this actthere willlikely be reviews on the regulationsperiodicallyyou feel that the approach is notproportionate or there are gaps, there is alwaysthe opportunity down the line for you to raise those with us.However, for the time being, I think the cigarette buttis regarded as having an inherent riskof harm associated with it; hence why it has been describedas ‘dangerous litter’. Clare Dawson:Thanks, Dru; that’s fantastic.That concludes the questionsaround litter and other waste. I will hand back nowto Clare Moran. Clare Moran:Thank you, Clare and Dru. We are running a little aheadof time, which is good, so we are going to tryto keep answering some of the questionsthat have come through. We do have a questionabout questions, which is: will you answerall of the questions later on that come throughon the chat? We will absolutelydo our best to do that.If questions do notget answered today, we will absolutelytry to follow them up. As I am sure you can imagine,a lot of questions are coming in and there may be some thatwe feel have been addressed in the presentation,so we really encourage you to look back overthe presentation and self-surf for some of those questionsand answers. I am just going to readthrough some responses and, if I need an expert, I might perhaps call them upto give an answer. Regarding onsitewastewater management systems, we did have a questionthat came through, which was:will property owners be required to renew their septic tankpermit every five years; and how will that process work?The answer is no; an onsite wastewatermanagement system permit is for the construction, installation or alterationof a system.I guess I take thatas meaning that it is a point-in-time permission and it does not lastover a period of time. I will also just go back tothe question that we had about ‘annoyance’,with regard to noise. We had a question that was: I am concerned aboutthe introduction of the word ‘annoyance’ in the act.Can further clarity be provided regarding what is consideredto be ‘annoyance’? The answerfrom our experts is that ‘annoyance’ is not in the actnor the regulations, and the factors of annoyance cover the factorsof unreasonable noise. Here is a question aboutOPLEs: will there be an expansionof the number of OPLEs availableto assist councils? The answer is that no new OPLEs have been announcedat this stage. Another question here,which relates to onsite wastewater management systems,is: in what scenarios will councilsneed to transfer a permit? It will be where a changein permit holder is planned priorto the completion of the work: for example, where the propertyowner is the permit holder and sells the property.We also have a question herein relation to the delegation of powers. The question is: will theinstrument of delegation apply to alpineresort management boards? The answer to that,I guess initially, is no. In terms of makingthe delegation, our focus is on councils,because we understand that is where the greatest needfor these powers is. But we certainly would be happy and willing to reach out toalpine resort management boards, following 1 July, to look atthe case for why perhaps they might need these powers.I have another question here. This question also relatesto the delegation: what is the logicbehind councils being unableto take further action for improvement noticesand prohibition notices that are issued undergeneral environmental duty; and is taking all of theseon placing more work on the EPA and causing double-handlingor time delays? Having not been involved inthe writing of the act myself, I probably cannot givea super-clear answer, but I would say that there are significantnew powers in the act.When the act was going throughthe many layers of approval, there was very close scrutinyof the powers themselves and also who would be ableto access them. Also, with the referral to the EPAof this enforcement action, I guess, more work ultimatelywill be placed on the EPA in taking these on; and, yes, it could causedouble-handling and time delays. But, as we said earlier, we areworking on a referral process to try to make itas efficient as possible and also to be clear to councils about what caseswe would take on.We hope that will tryto address, I guess, some of those concerns.There is another question about the instrumentof delegation and timing: if councils are delegatedthese powers in early June, that might be a problem, because council officersneeding new authorisation, under the new act, will then have to waitfor 30 days, with no powers, until the next council meeting. Yes, it is correctthat we will have the instrument finalised in early June,and we absolutely acknowledge that is gettingvery close to 1 July. I guess that there are a coupleof things I can offer there. One is that we havea draft of the instrument, which we are happyto make available to you now, if that would assist you in preparingfor the council processes that you need to go through. I would also ask you to rememberthat the delegation, I guess, complements a lotof the other direct powers that councils have. So, if all the delegationsare not made on 1 July, it won’t necessarilybe the end of the world; I think we need to allowourselves a bit of room.There is a question aboutwhether councils will be trained in how to write,amend or revoke notices. I am going to throw thatquestion to Clare for an answer. Clare Dawson: Thanks, Clare.Regarding the notices, the toolkits do covera fair bit of detail around how the different noticescan be used for residential noise,septics, and litter and waste. If we get feedback from councilsthat there is not enough detail and they want morein-depth guidance on writing requirements, for example,we will look at doing that and providing it to youafter 1 July. I would acknowledgethat some further support might be in storein that area.Will Mosley:Just on the question whether there will beany further rollout of OPLEs to new councils,I cannot confirm that there will be any furtherrollout in the immediate future. But we are optimisticthat the OPLE pilot program will be made a formal programcome 1 July, which means that we have scope, maybe not inthe immediate future but in the future, to expandthe program eventually, based on government funding. We had a question: will councilreceive any extra resources to manage noise investigations? The EPA has run two yearsof training programs for environmentalhealth officers, planning officersand other officers who are involvedin noise investigations, and we’ve managed to trainupwards of 20 councils. Due to the extensive effortspent on transformation in 2021, we do not have any trainingplanned for this year, but we intend to continuethis training in the future when resourcesbecome available again. In terms of OPLEs beingavailable to assist councils, when you have an OPLE,that OPLE will be available.Please continue to watchthe OPLE space and, shouldan additional rollout occur, submit your expressionsof interest to get an OPLE. Clare Moran:Thanks, Will. I have two more questions, one which I am going to takeas a question and the other as a comment,before we close out. We’re taking this oneas a comment, thank you: we need to ensurethat EPA information does not give residentsunrealistic expectations, given that a number of councilsare looking to leave enforcement of unreasonable noiseto the police. We will take thatas a comment, thank you. The final question againgoes back to the delegation regarding improvement noticesand prohibition notices, and the council notbeing able to enforce them. The question is:given that council officers will be undertakinginitial investigations and evidence collection,will training be provided by the EPAregarding evidence collection, the type of evidencerequired et cetera? I guess I’d say to that thatthese are the types of issues that we will need to considerin the referral process, regarding being clearto councils about what types of evidencewould be required and those sorts of things.I would also ask youto please look at the toolkit and remember that there are manyparts where council can enforce and can initiate prosecutionsin their own right, and there is detail in there about conductinginvestigations on those. Thank you all so much for yourattendance and attention today. We know that we have providedyou with a lot of information, so we really encourage youto take some time to digest the materialsand visit EPA’s website. Also, of course,you will be able to go back and listen to this recording. I would like to thankmy fellow presenters, Will, Clare,Tim and Dru. Also, there is a wholeback-house team making this event happen,including our experts, our coms and engagement crewand our tech team.A survey about this webinar willbe coming to you very shortly, so please complete it and let usknow how we have gone today. Finally, I would sayto you that 1 July is really just the beginning.As much as we prepare, we know that therewill be bumps in the road. But it is just the beginning,and we look forward to continuing the conversationwith you andthe fun bit, reallyimplementingthese new laws. Thank you..

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