Business, industry and planning guidance

Landfill regulation: the latest updates

The landfill licensing process is outlined here – but, like all processes, it is subject to changes. Furthermore, certain landfill licence conditions, such as daily cover, allow for alternative operational measures or activities to be implemented if EPA approval is given in writing.

The purpose of this page is to regularly summarise the most recent changes so landfill licensing stakeholders can keep abreast of EPA’s requirements when it comes to the notification, design and construction of new landfill cells, and to outline EPA’s expectations for obtaining written approvals with other landfill licence conditions.

1. New cells – notification of intent to construct a new cell

Our approval timeframe is 10 business days. Our expectation is that landfill licence holders are to submit notifications of intent to construct a new cell to This submission must include the information listed in Appendix 7 of EPA publication 1323 Landfill licensing guidelines for EPA’s assessment.

2. Alternative daily cover

Landfill licence condition LI_L7 states that, by the end of each day’s operations, wastes must be covered in one of these ways:

  1. with a layer of soil at least 0.15 metres thick if the waste is only solid inert waste
  2. with a later of soil at least 0.30 metres thick for all other wastes
  3. using alternative daily cover approved by EPA in writing.

In assessing the applicability of an alternative daily cover (ADC), EPA considers the ability of the cover to meet the Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) requirements set out in EPA publication 788.3 Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (Section 7.7 Waste Cover).

To ensure that a proposed ADC meets the intent of BPEM and can be successfully implemented without operational issues, EPA requires landfill licence holders to undertake a 12-month trial of the ADC. On successful completion of a 12-month trial and reporting of the results demonstrating that the ADC has performed as intended, EPA may then approve in writing the ongoing use of the ADC.

Applying to trial alternative daily cover

To arrange approval for a 12-month trial, we request landfill licence holders email an application for the proposed ADC, as well as a complete approvals pathway proposal form. This application should include, but not be limited to:

  • an introduction covering the type of ADC being requested, where it will be used (which cell/tipping face), details of previous trials that have been undertaken at the premises and details of where the proposed ADC has been successfully used (customer testimonials, other landfills, etc)
  • a management plan covering:
    • operations (personnel who will be responsible for the use of the ADC, the tipping face area/size, the start/end of day covering procedures, odour management, inspections, record keeping, maintenance and health and safety)
    • equipment (details regarding the permanent site equipment and contingency equipment)
    • training (identification of what training will be required for personnel to use ADC
  • details of community engagement (stakeholders such as community reference groups or neighbouring properties which will need to be engaged with in relation to the ADC trial)
  • contingency plan/s
  • details of monitoring (including copies of procedures and checklists)
  • reports for the proposed ADC (i.e. technical data sheets, resistance testing, anti-bacterial/tear strength/permittivity/permeability/flow rate/bust strength reports).

Approval for ongoing use of alternative daily cover

Licence holders are to submit a letter to EPA 30 days prior to completing the 12-month trial that describes the performance of the use of the ADC. Following assessment and acceptance of the trial, EPA will issue a letter of approval allowing ongoing use of the ADC. Please note that this approval (both trial and ongoing) for alternative daily cover does not require an amendment of your licence. The EPA approval timeframe: is10 business days for both trial submissions and 10 for approval of ongoing use.

3. Licence amendment following cell construction – EPA timeframes

After construction of the new landfill cell and submission of the audit report to the licence-holder, the licence-holder must then submit the following via

  • a copy of the audit report
  • a list of environmental auditors recommended actions suitably phrased for inclusion in the environmental monitoring program or any additional work
  • an application for amendment to the licence to include the landfill cell and associated details
  • an updated site plan (in jpeg).

Once these documents have been received, EPA will assess the construction audit report within 20 business days of receipt. If accepted, EPA will then immediately commence the licence amendment, which must be completed within 21 days (as per section 20A(5) of the Environment Protection Act 1970). Where the construction audit report is accepted, EPA envisages for most cases that the licence amendment will be completed well before the 21-day deadline. However, EPA does reserve the right to take this long if necessary in order to manage priorities across all licensing applications.

4. New legislation

We would also like to highlight three recent developments in the legislative and policy arena that have implications for landfill licensing.

Environment Protection Act 2017

On 1 July 2018, EPA became a fully independent statutory authority under the Environment Protection Act 2017. This marks a new chapter in our history as the environmental regulator in Victoria, and legislates the role of the Governing Board, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Environmental Scientist.

Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 28 August 2018. The Act amends the Environment Protection Act 2017 and gives EPA a completely reformed legislative framework. The Government’s intention is for the amendment to commence on 1 July 2020. This timeframe is intended to allow for an appropriate period for EPA and those who will be required to comply with the new laws to prepare for and successfully implement the reforms.

State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) 2018

The State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) (Waters) formally commenced on 19 October 2018. It replaced the SEPP (Waters of Victoria), its regional schedules, and the SEPP (Groundwaters of Victoria) and was made following an extensive review and consultation process. EPA expects all duty holders to recognise the requirements and expectations that it sets out. More information is available here.



Page last updated on 18 Dec 2018