The State Government has introduced the Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2017 for debate in Parliament. The Bill seeks modernised and strengthened powers under the Environment Protection Act to better support a strong, legitimate resource recovery sector, as well as supporting the EPA in prosecuting illegal dumping.
Under the Bill, local government will benefit from the EPA’s strengthened ability to successfully identify and prosecute widespread large-scale illegal dumping. It will:
- address car owners’ responsibility for dumping from their vehicle
- enable the use of tracking devices for classes of vehicle when prescribed (eg suspected of being involved in illegal dumping)
- expand EPA authorised officer powers to enter certain premises and mark materials that are likely to be illegally dumped
- allow for improved monitoring of waste and related material movements.
These reforms will be an advantage for our communities and the environment, helping to protect against harmful or unsightly unlawful waste disposal and reducing the significant costs borne by both State and local governments each year in cleaning up illegally dumped waste. The changes complement powers in the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.
The Bill also seeks new powers for the EPA to ensure the sustainable movement of materials at resource recovery facilities and upfront protection from key risks, including through:
- enabling regulation of material flow and to prevent excessive stockpiling within the waste and resource recovery industry through amendments to the Objects of the Environment Protection Act and new licence condition powers, strengthening the EPA’s ability to address all fire risks and avoid inappropriate delays in resource recovery
- expanding when financial assurances can be used (including insurance) to protect against environmental, abandonment and distortion risks while also supporting innovation
- providing improved and proportionate powers for tackling breaches of licence conditions, including an expiation of $1,000 for a breach of licence condition.
These changes will uphold the polluter pays principle, holding relevant operators responsible for costs arising from their operations rather than either having state or local governments or innocent land owners bear these, or, local communities suffer the health, amenity or environmental consequences of non-action.
Local governments may also appreciate that the Bill promotes innovative, safe resource recovery in our communities by introducing a formal process to assess new proposals to use waste materials as approved recovered resources and changed evidentiary requirements around claims that disposed material is not ‘waste’.
Councils have previously expressed interest in being consulted about policy changes to be pursued subsequent to the Bill, including mass balance reporting, when financial assurances will be used and the nature of likely stockpiling controls. The EPA is committed to consulting on these matters.
The Bill as introduced is available at the South Australian legislation website. The second reading speech is available on the SA Parliament website.
If you have any questions in relation to the Waste Reform Bill, please contact Tiana Nairn on 8204 9926 or email@example.com.