Did you know that both the owner of the waste and the transporter are legally responsible for proving the waste was transported to a lawful place? The owner of the waste and the transporter are each guilty of an offence when waste is transported to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.
“if it sounds too good to be true it generally is” and if the price of disposal and/or recycling is significantly lower than their competitors their is a big chance that they are not adhering to the POEO act and EPA and DECC regulations.
Environment protection offences and penalties
The classification of offences as Tier 1, 2 or 3 continues under the POEO Act. The offences are similar to the previous offence regime.
Tier 1 offences continue as the most serious offences. These are the wilful or negligent disposal of waste causing or likely to cause harm to the environment (section 115), wilfully or negligently causing a substance to leak, spill or otherwise escape in a manner that harms or is likely to harm the environment (section 116), and the wilful or negligent emission of an ozone-depleting substance in breach of the Ozone Protection Regulations in a manner that harms or is likely to harm the environment (section 117).
Tier 1 offences can attract penalties of up to $5 million and 7 years gaol.
Tier 2 offences are set out according to the medium involved. Water pollution is prohibited under section 120 (previously section 16 of the Clean Waters Act). It is a defence in any court proceedings for water pollution that an environment protection licence or regulations regulated the pollution and that the conditions attached to the licence or the regulations were not contravened. Air and noise pollution offences are similar to those in the repealed legislation.Waste offences include littering, unlawful transporting of waste and permitting land to be used unlawfully as a waste facility.
Land pollution is prohibited under section 142A. It is a defence in any court proceedings for land pollution that an environment protection licence or the regulations regulated the pollution, and that the conditions of the licence were not contravened. Other defences include defences related to use of pesticides and fertilisers.
The maximum penalties for Tier 2 offences are $1 million in the case of a corporation and $250,000 in the case of an individual. Further daily penalties apply to continuing offences.
Tier 3 offences are dealt with by penalty notices (sometimes known as ‘on-the-spot fines’ or ‘penalty infringement notices’). These notices impose a fine that can be paid or can be defended in court.
The maximum possible penalty that a penalty notice can impose may not exceed the maximum penalty that can be imposed by a court for the offence. The Protection of the Environment Operations (Penalty Notices) Regulation 2004 lists the Tier 2 offences that can be dealt with by penalty notice.
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