EPA’s role is to administer the environmental audit system in Victoria, which includes appointing environmental auditors and the review of audits undertaken.
What are EPA’s responsibilities?
EPA’s oversight of the environmental audit system includes:
- a rigorous process to appoint auditors
- regulating the conduct of auditors (as outlined in the Environment Protection Act), with suspension or revocation of appointment if breached
- significant financial and custodial penalties for providing false or misleading information
- requiring auditors to undertake audits only within their field of expertise and that of their expert support team
- selective reviews of auditors’ performance.
What are not EPA’s responsibilities?
In the audit process, the EPA does not:
- control the timing of an audit process
- request 53X audits – while EPA may very rarely request a 53X audit under notice, for the most part these are requested by local government or an owner/occupier of the land (EPA can request 53V audits)
- manage compliance with conditions of a statement of environmental audit (local government does this).
Under the Act, EPA appoints environmental auditors and regulates their conduct. Auditors are initially appointed for a two-year term. Subsequent appointments can be for up to five years.
EPA maintains a quality assurance program to monitor auditors. Auditors ‘must have regard to’ the Act and EPA guidelines when conducting an audit.
EPA has published guidelines and adopted national standards for the appointment of environmental auditors and the conduct of audits.
When a 53X audit is completed, the auditor must provide a copy of the final report, and a certificate or statement of environmental audit, to the party requesting the audit (usually the site owner), to EPA and to relevant local government bodies. All 53V audit reports are also provided to EPA.
EPA ensures certificates and statements of environmental audit are consistent with the audit report conclusions.
EPA can also request further assessment of a site (or additional information from the auditor or people associated with the site) if it is not satisfied with an audit report.