Brimbank Council has welcomed the State Government’s extension of a pilot program introduced last year, as part of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) reforms to provide more effective regulation of environmental issues.
Pictured: Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP (third from right) with EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan (far left) and Brimbank Mayor Cr Margaret Giudice (third from left) along with OPLE staff, at the Ministerial Announcement on 6 August, of the extension of the program to July 2019.
The $4.8 million ‘Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment’ (OPLE) program was funded by the Victorian Government last year as a 15-month pilot program, in which EPA officers were assigned to 13 councils around the state. Brimbank and Hobsons Bay city councils share an OPLE officer.
An extension of the pilot program to July 2019 was announced on 6 August by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio. The extension will allow additional data to be collected on the pilot project before the State Government makes a final decision on whether the project is permanently introduced.
Brimbank Mayor Cr Margaret Giudice said that Council was very pleased the pilot initiative would be extended beyond the scheduled December end.
“Brimbank has been advocating for the program to continue, as it’s helping to speed up the resolution of local environmental problems.
“Earlier this year Council wrote to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio to advocate for continued funding of the OPLE program, including funding for the officer at Brimbank City Council.
“In the months since the OPLE program has been active for Brimbank, the OPLE officer has been making headway in investigating smaller scale environmental issues and has issued multiple clean up notices to businesses.
“Brimbank Council views the OPLE program as an important step in building stronger relationships between the EPA and Councils, and in speeding up the resolution of local environmental problems.
“Brimbank has invested significant time and resources to ensure the OPLE officer role is effective and achieves good environmental outcomes for our community.
“Further down the track, Brimbank would certainly welcome a State Government decision to permanently introduce the program,” Cr Giudice said.
OPLE authorised officers have important powers which include the power of entry, inspection and assessment of compliance, issuing inspection reports and remedial notices.
Brimbank Council and Hobsons Bay currently share an OPLE officer who responds to smaller scale and lower risk waste and pollution complaints, including illegal dumping, litter, noise, dust and odours from smaller business and industry.
Businesses may visit the Environmental Protection Authority's Business and Industry Guidelines page to keep up to date on their environmental responsibilities. Members of the public are encouraged to report pollution to the EPA’s 24-hour hotline 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).