Understanding Australian business and environment laws

There is a growing awareness the world over of the need to protect the environment from the adverse effects of industrial pollution and harm to our fragile eco-system. It is this reason why most Governments the world over have strict laws in place that monitor business growth and its impact on the surroundings. Australia is no exception but whether these environmental laws have a direct bearing on your business will depend on the line of business activities. The responsibility lies with the business owner to understand which laws apply to your particular line of business and the steps that should be taken to comply with them.

Environment protection laws in Australia are jointly administered by local, state and federal governments through bilateral agreements. However, there is also the Department of Environment that enforces the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act which addresses the assessment and approval procedures of issues concerning environmental and cultural concerns. There is a wide range of business activities that fall within the ambit of this law which provides guidelines to all businesses on methods to adopt for reducing pollution levels and having waste and effluent cleaning processes in place.

Emphasis is given by the Department of Environment mainly on businesses that directly impact heritage issues, fuel quality, the pollution levels of the sea and what is imported. The laws also keep a strict vigil on generation, disposal and treatment of any type of hazardous waste. Licences and permits to businesses are given on the basis of project proposals that guarantee that environmental safeguards as laid down by law will be strictly implemented.

Any business has to follow the rules prevailing in that particular state. A few examples will prove this point. In Australian Capital Territory there is the Environmental Protection Act 1997 and in New South Wales it is the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. Such laws are there for all states but with different nomenclatures.

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