Councils takes up EPA powers


Michaela Meade

A Whittlesea administrator wants his council to be “fully cognizant” of the cost and impacts of changes to delegations of the Environment Protection Act on the council and community.

Changes to the Act will mean that council officers take up powers previously the responsibility of the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

At a council meeting earlier this month, Whittlesea administrator Chris Eddy voiced concerns about what the change of powers would mean for the workload of council officers, and the cost to council.

Council chief executive Craig Lloyd said that “whether we like it or not”, matters would be referred to council that had previously been referred to the EPA prior to the Act alteration.

“The purpose of these delegations is to allow us to undertake that work [that was previously the responsibility of the EPA],” he said.

“This will come at some cost to council.

“The quantity of that cost is not yet known, but we’ll work through that as we see what the volume of work is.”

Mr Eddy asked council officers to prepare a report in 12 months time that would outline the impacts of the new delegations on council.

Meanwhile, Hume council resolved to write to Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to voice concerns about the EPA’s disbanding of the Waste Crime Directorate.

As reported by Star Weekly, the directorate will be disbanded as part of the watchdog’s moves to reduce its workforce amid state budget cuts.

Cr Karen Sherry said the directorate had been a necessary resource for the Hume community and beyond.

“The dedicated team within the EPA provided much-needed additional resourcing,” Cr Sherry said.

“I’m just hoping that we can say to the EPA… [that] this is really urgent, we really need help here.”

EPA chief executive Lee Miezis earlier this month said that the EPA will continue to deliver the work carried out by the directorate.