The General Environmental Duty (GED) is at the centre of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (EP Act) and came into effect under the Victorian Environment Protection Act of 1 July 2021. It outlines new requirements to meet your environmental obligations. A core component of the new Act is a GED to businesses, which allocates responsibility of proactive management of potential environmental hazards.
This article provides an overview of what the GED is and how it applies to businesses.
The General Environmental Duty is a legal obligation that applies to all businesses and individuals. It requires you to:
The GED applies:
Some common risks to manage include:
Edge Group can assist businesses to meet their obligations and help those in high-risk industries to maintain their environmental performance.
Under the GED, demonstrated performance by an individual or an organisation to discharge their duty will be considered satisfactory based on the steps taken to minimise the risks of harm so far as reasonably practicable. Under section 6(2) of the EP Act, consideration of what is reasonably practicable can be attributed as follows:
Civil and / or criminal penalties can be issued for both individuals and body corporates ranging from $363,000 to almost $2 million with higher penalties applied to aggravated breaches. EPA (Regulator) may take other compliance and enforcement action in response to a failure to comply with the GED. EPA's compliance and enforcement policy (Publication 1798.2) provides more information on the Regulator’s approach.
There are a variety of documents available on EPA Victoria’s website that provide general guidance to individuals and organisations on discharging their duties under the GED.
Updates to environmental legislation, contamination profiles and emerging contaminants mean the landscape of managing your environmental risks is constantly evolving. Edge Group routinely conducts risk assessments and compliance reviews to identify and proactively manage a broad range of environmental risks associated with our clients' sites and/or activities. This ensures compliance with the Victorian environmental legislation and environmental risk responsibilities. If you don’t understand your risks, then you may be exposed.
Contact Edge Group today here to discuss your responsibilities under the EP Act.