Consultation underway on new EPA Guidelines for Landfill buffers
The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has released two new draft guidelines, a Separation distance guideline and a Landfill buffer guideline (Draft Guidelines). The Draft Guidelines are helpfully summarised by the EPA here: Guide to separation distance and landfill buffer changes.
The key takeaways from the Draft Guidelines
The Draft Guidelines will:
- apply to new applications;
- be used to inform the ‘state of knowledge’ test in the case of a prosecution or enforcement;
- apply new landfill buffer distances around current or old landfills;
- create a new ‘one stop shop’ for planning advice for land use within a landfill buffer; and
- subject a wide variety of industries1 which emit odour or dust to new or amended separation distances.
Businesses involved with landfills or industries which emit odour or dust, and are proposing new or expanded operations in 2023 or beyond, should carefully review the Draft Guidelines and consider the impact they may have on their plans.
If you are impacted by the proposed new guidelines, consider making a submission during the consultation period. Consultation on the Draft Guidelines closes on 5:00pm 17 February 2023.
Role of Guidelines
EPA guidelines inform the new ‘state of knowledge’ test within the General Environmental Duty established under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (EP Act).
State of knowledge includes all of the information you should reasonably know about when managing the risks of your business. As such, a failure to comply with or an ignorance of the guidelines may be used against you if a breach of the EP Act occurs.
Once finalised, the Draft Guidelines will apply only to new permits and applications.
The Draft Guidelines will replace the Recommended separation distances for industrial residual air emissions (EPA publication 1518).
Key changes arising from the Separation distance guideline include:
- new recommended separation distances for:
- plastics manufacture and or recycling (> 2,000 t/year): 200m
- bulk storage of chemicals: 1,000m
- biosolids application areas: 500m/1,000m2
- materials recovery and recycling facility: 250m
- incineration: 150m/500m3
- Increased recommended separation distances for:
- landfill accepting solid inert waste (Type 3): increase from 200m to 500m
- landfill accepting municipal (putrescible) waste (Type 2); tip face greater than 500 m2: increase from 500m to 1,500m
- open cut coal mine: increase from 1,000m to 2,000m
- quarry without blasting: increase from 250m to 500m
- detail about the method for assessing whether a separation distance is suitable;
- process for varying separation distances;
- new reference facilities for composting industries separation distances;
- incorporation of the new environment protection framework; and
- information about human health and amenity risks.4
The Draft Guidelines will replace the Assessing planning proposals within the buffer of a landfill (EPA publication 1642) and relevant parts of Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (Landfill BPEM) (publication 788.3).
Key changes include:
- a new ‘one stop shop’ for planning advice related to landfills. For example, new or expanded landfills will be required to be referred to the EPA and considered against the new guideline;
- updated human health and amenity buffers – in particular, an increased 1,500-metre buffer for landfills accepting putrescible waste (type 2) with a tip face greater than 500 square metres; and
- advice on acceptable uses within the buffer of a landfill, to provide more certainty for landowners, developers and decision makers.5
It is proposed that the new 1,500-metre buffer may be varied to a minimum of 1,000 metres if an appropriate odour risk assessment is able to demonstrate that an alternative buffer is acceptable.
Consultation closes 5:00pm, 17 February 2023. You can participate in the consultation by filling out an online form on the EPA’s website found here.
Final guidelines are proposed to be published on the EPA’s website mid 2023.
How we can assist you
If you are unsure how the Draft Guidelines might affect your existing operations or future projects, or would like assistance with preparing a submission to the EPA, please contact a member of our Environment and Planning team.