Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has launched an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Program to capture video evidence of illegal dumping and polluting.
Executive Director of Regional Services, Damian Wells said the program will increase EPA’s ability to detect illegal dumping in remote and difficult to reach locations and prosecute offenders.
“We know that land with minimum visibility tends to be an attractive place for illegal dumping because offenders think no-one’s watching. They shouldn’t be so confident now,” Mr Wells said.
“The use of high performance UAVs, also known as drones, and other technology such as aerial photography are important additions to our compliance and enforcement toolkit. Vision collected through the UAV Program will detect illegal dumping in areas that were previously inaccessible or difficult to reach by EPA officers,” he said.
Mr Wells said the launch of the UAV Program builds on the work of EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce – a program dedicated to reducing the illegal dumping of industrial waste such as concrete, timber, bricks and asbestos on public and private land.
“It’s estimated more than 350,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste is illegally dumped in Victoria every year, posing risks to our environment, health and economy,” Mr Wells said.
“Local councils alone spend tens of millions of dollars each year cleaning up illegally dumped waste.”
Last financial year EPA issued 98 remedial notices to stop or clean up illegally dumped waste across the state, with the most issued in Victoria’s north-west, followed by the Melbourne metro and north east regions.
“Illegal dumping is a criminal offence. lllegal dumpers, including those who accept industrial waste without the proper licence, face fines ranging from $7,500 to almost $800,000,” Mr Wells said.
EPA has gained Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certification to operate the program and must abide by CASA regulations requiring licensees to keep their UAVs more than 15m away from people.
UAVs must also be operated within line of sight and cannot be flown over populous areas, making them suitable for use in more remote locations.
The UAV Program will also help EPA officers to investigate pollution reports on land which is difficult to reach by foot or vehicle.
EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce Program works to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals and companies who participate in large-scale dumping. Recent enforcement results include:
Further information about EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce Program is available at www.epa.vic.gov.au/strikeforce.
EPA urges members of the public to report suspected illegal dumping via its 24 hour pollution hotline on 1300 EPA VIC
(1300 372 842) or at www.epa.vic.gov.au