Steele Law: Expert environmental lawyers
The carrying out of development on land may have significant effects upon the environment.
NSW and Commonwealth legislation requires that these effects be properly assessed before development is approved and, where significant effects cannot be avoided, that they are properly monitored and appropriately mitigated.
The key Commonwealth legislation regulating the environmental impacts of development is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act) which is administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy.
The EPBC Act provides that development which is likely to have a significant impact on a "Matter of National Environmental Significance" (such as internationally important wetlands or a listed threatened species) constitutes a "controlled action" which must be assessed and approved before the development can be carried out.
The mode of assessment can vary and in some cases can proceed under an accredited NSW assessment process in accordance with a bilateral assessment agreement between the Commonwealth and the State.
The key legislation regulating the environmental impacts of development in NSW includes the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).
The EPA Act is administered by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. It contains provisions requiring that the potential environmental effects of certain classes of development be properly assessed before that development is carried out.
The Act also provides that consent for development may be granted subject to conditions requiring that the environmental effects of development be monitored and mitigated.
The POEO Act is administered by the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA). It provides that the carrying out of certain "Scheduled Activities" requires approval under an Environment Protection Licence (EPL) which will impose limits on the permissible emission of pollutants produced as a result of those activities. The Act also contains criminal offence provisions relating to the unauthorised release of pollution into the environment.
Other important State environmental legislation includes:
- the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) which establishes a regulatory framework for dealing with land contamination;
- the Local Land Services Act 2013 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP) which regulate land clearing;
- the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which regulates activities which may affect biodiversity; and
- the Water Management Act 2000 and Water Act 1912 which together regulated the extraction of use of ground and river water.
How we can help
At Steele Law, we can help you understand your obligations under Commonwealth and State environmental legislation. Based in Sydney, we’ve assisted clients across the country, providing them crucial assistance on all environmental law matters. In particular, we can:
- advise you on the environmental assessment and approval requirements pertaining to particular development;
- assist you with approval compliance issues including responding to regulatory investigations;
- draft or review contractual environmental liability clauses;
- review environmental assessment documentation to ensure that it is legally robust;
- where appropriate, retain technical experts under legal professional privilege to advise on the potential environmental effects of development;
- assist you to respond to pollution incidents including any associated regulatory investigation;
- advise and represent you in relation in criminal proceedings brought in relation to an environmental offence; and
- train managers and site personnel on critical environmental incident response procedures.
- Where required, represent you in the NSW Land and Environment Court
Examples of projects upon which we have worked which demonstrate our environmental law experience can be found here.
Contact us for more information.