The EPA has the power to issue an Environment Protection Order [EPO] where it considers it necessary to ensure compliance with the Act. The order will specify what actions need to be taken (or that need to be stopped) and a person who fails to comply with an order may be fined. In addition, the EPA may take whatever action is required in the order and recover the cost, from the person.
Where someone causes environmental harm, in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed, the EPA may be able to issue a Clean Up Order specifying what action needs to be taken. If the order is not complied with a person may be fined up to $60 000 while a body corporate may be fined up to $120 000. The EPA may also carry out the action specified on the order and recover the cost from the person.
A person served with an Environment Protection Order or a Clean Up Order has fourteen days to appeal to the Environment Resources and Development Court against the order.
Either the EPA, a person affected by the actions of another or any other person (with the permission of the court) may apply to the Environment Resources and Development Court for orders. The court may order a person who has breached the Act or caused environmental damage to:
- stop, or to take certain action (such as to make good any damage caused);
- pay compensation to anyone who has suffered damages or incurred costs as a consequence of a breach of the Act;
- in special circumstances, pay damages as punishment.
In addition to the EPA’s power to issue an environmental protection order, officers from a local council, the EPA, or the police, may when urgent action is required to protect the environment, issue an emergency environmental protection order. Orders can be given orally or in writing and lapse after 72 hours, unless the EPA issues an environmental protection order in writing [see s 93(3)-(6)]. These emergency orders are most commonly used by the police to shut down noisy parties.