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New regulations target polluters

COMMERCIAL operators who dump or burn unauthorised waste will risk on-the-spot fines of up to $5,000 or court summons under new regulations.

Environment Minister Judy Edwards, who announced the regulations earlier this week, said they were a more effective and appropriate way to deal with minor discharges of waste products than existing higher penalties.

“The new regulations will make it easier for Department of Environment officers and local government environmental health officers to take action in cases of small discharges,” Dr Edwards said.

“In the past, measurable damage to the environment had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt before taking enforcement action, but this was often difficult and time consuming, especially for smaller incidents.”

Ms Edwards said the maximum penalty of five years’ jail or $1,000,000 fine would still apply for offences where more serious environmental damage was proven under the act.

However, the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry is concerned about the regulations, suggesting many companies will be inadvertently caught up in non-compliance.

CCI industry policy director Bill Sashegyi said that, under the new regulations, things such as the commercial disposal of tap water into a sewer could represent non-compliance.

The CCI has been contacted by a number of members concerned about the new regulations.

Mr Sashegyi said while the chamber “totally” supported policing of indiscriminate disposal of waste, the new regulations were to “all-encompassing”.

Not only would the regulations place an unreasonable impact on industry, but they’d also put an excessive burden on the department, he said.

The regulations could also increase environmental licensing for businesses, which would go against the 2002 Welker Review to streamline the number of licences and licensing procedures, according to Mr Sashegyi.

A more formal industry position will be considered at a CCI environmental committee meeting later this month.

 

 

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