Environmental laws aim to protect human health and the natural environment in the context of land-use planning and resource management.
Environmental laws include legislation dealing with:
- land-use planning;
- risk-management for pollution and waste;
- protection of nature;
- the reservation and protection of public land;
- the management of natural resources;
- climate change;
- environmental impact assessment.
The Victorian Government is responsible for most of this legislation. However, there is also important Commonwealth Government legislation that is relevant in some circumstances. Local government decision-makers play an important part in administering some environmental laws.
This chapter covers the laws that provide for public involvement in decision-making and the enforcement of land-use planning laws, environmental impact assessment, and pollution control laws.
There are many other environmental laws that regulate:
- coastal protection;
- water and waterways.
Protecting the environment often requires people to use other areas of the law, such as freedom of information, administrative law, corporations law and consumer laws. For more information about these areas of law, see Chapter 6.4: Neighbour disputes, and Chapter 12.5: Freedom of information law.
Environmental legislation reform
This chapter discusses the significant reforms that have recently been made to a range of Victorian environmental legislation.
The main reforms are:
- substantial changes have been made under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic);
- the nature protection provisions in the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Vic) have been amended via the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019 (Vic);
- the provisions relating to the management of marine and coastal areas have been reformed under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 (Vic);
- under the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Vic), greater consideration must now be given to Aboriginal uses and values in water.
In addition to substantive changes to Victorian environmental legislation, the Commonwealth Government has initiated an independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).