A pilot program that embeds Environment Protection Officers [EPA] with local councils will expand to cover Melton and Moorabool.

The program allows EPA officers to more easily and quickly respond to issues of noise, dust, odour and waste management arising from small to medium size businesses. It has been running since 2017.

The program’s expansion follows a $3.4 million injection from the state government.

The program currently has 11 officers working across 13 council areas, with the expansion to include a further eight officers across 10 councils.

Recruitment for the Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) is under way, with a view to them starting in early 2020.

EPA chief executive Dr Cathy Wilkinson said it was exciting to be expanding the program into the outer west of Melbourne.

“We’re committed to being closely connected with the communities we serve and empowering and encouraging them to assist us to prevent harm from pollution and waste,” she said.

“We’re excited to be expanding our presence … and seeing the improvements from the first phase.”

Melton mayor Bob Turner said the program would play an important role in keeping the local environment clean.