Renewed push for identification of historically contaminated land by Victorian EPA

On 17 January 2017 the Victorian government’s response to the Independent inquiry into the Victorian EPA was released by the Daniel Andrews Labor government. The initial inquiry was completed in March 2016 but it has taken 9 months for the government’s response, underlining the ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to modernise and transform the EPA and overhaul the 1970 Environment Protection Act to equip the agency going forward.

The changes include an increase of funding of $45.5 million in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to ‘kick-start’ a five year reform program. Included in the funding is $3.3 million for improved digital information management to support better regulation and $4.8 million to expand the environmental public health capability in the EPA to better identify, manage and communicate environmental health risks in Victoria.

One of the key recommendations of the Independent inquiry which had the full support of the Victorian Government were the recommendations around Managing Legacy Risks (Recommendations 14.1-14.3). Recommendation 14.1 called on the Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning to “…develop a comprehensive statewide database of sites that pose a high risk to the community because of their past use, which should link to other relevant government data sources including information held by the EPA.” 

The public availability of such a database will be welcomed by all environmental assessors and land developers as an essential step in identifying risk when purchasing or developing land.  

Users of CheckSite, particularly users of who are requesting CheckSite Environmental Reports in the Melbourne metropolitan area will be aware that Spatial Vision has identified the locations of one of the key high risk operations, petrol stations, for which CheckSite has developed a database of sites going back as far as 1965.  Spatial Vision will next prepare a database of asbestos manufacturers in Victoria and will be including this on future CheckSite Environmental reports.

Spatial Vision is keen to assist the Victorian EPA and DELWP in the development of a statewide database of high risk sites.

For the final report of the Independent Inquiry please click here.

For the Victorian government’s response to the report click here.

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