New laws on contaminated land in Victoria

From 1 July 2021, new laws designed to prevent and reduce harm from pollution and waste, including circumstances where this has caused contamination of land and groundwater are coming into effect in Victoria.

Contaminated land duties

Two key new changes include the duty to notify and the duty to actively manage contaminated land.

The duty to notify requires persons who are in ‘management or control’ of land which is contaminated above set thresholds to report it to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Further, there is a new duty to actively manage contaminated land, which requires the person in management or control of contaminated land to minimise risks to human health and the environment so far as reasonably practicable.

Who owes the duty?

A person may be considered to manage or control the land where they exercise power over the land in a relevant way, including:

  • owning or occupying the land
  • having exclusive possession of the land under a lease; or
  • being appointed as the Committee of Management in respect to the land.
What is notifiable contamination?

Notifiable contamination includes contamination which is present in levels above a certain threshold and is either:

  • exposing a person to those contaminants, or
  • is moving, has moved or is likely to move off your land.
How to comply with the duty

The duty to notify and the duty to actively manage contaminated land begins 1 July 2021.

Unless an exemption applies, the EPA must be notified as soon as practicable after:

  • 1 July 2021, if you are aware of contamination above the thresholds; and
  • as soon as practicable after you become aware of, or reasonably should be aware of, contamination above the thresholds. This is because the duty is a continuing duty.
How to comply with the duty to manage contaminated land

The ongoing duty to manage land which is subject to contamination will include taking steps to:

  • identify any contamination you suspect is present;
  • with professional help, investigate and assess contamination;
  • provide and maintain measures to minimise risk; and
  • provide information to others who contamination may affect, where sharing that information will help control the risks.

If you require any further information about these new obligations, please contact the Beck Legal Property and Development team on 54453333.

 

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