The NELA Bulletin is the monthly bulletin of the National Environmental Law Association (NELA) and is published on the first Thursday of each month. Contributions to future issues of the NELA Bulletin are welcome and should be emailed to the editor by 5pm AEST on the last Thursday of each month.
NELA news and events
From the President
NELA is entering a new phase of growth in terms of its membership and in actively promoting debate about environment and climate change laws. Membership renewal notices are due out soon and we hope you’ll choose to stay with us and suggest NELA membership to your friends and colleagues. The NELA Bulletin is one of the benefits of membership, and next month we’ll be launching a vibrant new website.
To build NELA as a strong and broadly representative organization we’re developing a membership strategy for 2013 - 2014. It aims to consolidate our individual memberships and expand our corporate and organisational membership base.
NELA’s role in promoting debate on laws to protect our environment is as important now it has ever been. Barely a day goes by without new developments in the debate about the federal government’s role in protecting the environment and cultural values. The future of a federal carbon market, renewable energy targets and the role of state governments in delivering a low carbon future will continue to be hotly contested in this election year. And there’s also talk of winding back the regulations that created a national representative system of marine reserves only last year.
If you’d like to be involved in NELA’s policy teams on these topics please let us know.
NELA Twitter feed
NELA’s Twitter feed is now really up and running! Follow us for law and policy updates, events, news, job opportunities, resources and more throughout the month.
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Law and policy developments
In the courts
Injunction granted against Tarkine mine
The Federal Court granted a temporary injunction to stop construction at the proposed Nelson Bay River iron ore mine in north west Tasmania. The proposed mine is subject to judicial review proceedings by the Save the Tarkine group seeking to challenge the legality of the approval granted to the mine under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth).
Justice Marshall held that it was appropriate for the injunction to remain in place until he determines the judicial review application, and ordered the proponent, Shree Minerals, to pay Save The
Company fined $18,000 for sewage sludge spill
A waste transport business that caused a large spill of sewage sludge on the Tasman highway in 2011 has been convicted and fined $18,000 for breaches of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Controlled Waste Tracking) Regulations 2010 and for failing to notify the Director in relation to the spill. For more information, click here.
In the legislature
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (Amendment) Bill 2013 - the Minister for the Environment introduced the amendment in March 2013 that would require federal assessment and approval of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments which have a significant impact on a water resource, known as the ‘water trigger’. The Bill was referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee which provided a report on 13 May 2013. A copy of the report is available here.
The debate on the Bill in the Senate on 14 and 16 May focused on further amendments introduced by the Australian Greens. Then Independent Tony Windsor introduced another amendment to extend the trigger. A summary of the debates is available here.
The Australian Conservation Foundation and other environment groups are now seeking further amendments to the Bill to guarantee federal government approval of matters of national environmental significance and to protect state national parks from grazing, mining and other threatening activities. The move is in response to a Coalition announcement that they will delegate federal environment powers to the states if elected, and in response to the Queensland government’s move to allow grazing in national parks and relax native vegetation clearing regulation. A report in The Australian newspaper summarizing the developments is available here.
With only a limited number of Parliamentary sitting days in June, August and early September before the election this debate is shaping up as a nail biter.
Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2013 - this Bill, if passed, will enable the development of an estimated $35 billion of mineral resources in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia by providing the framework to regulate access to the area, including the development of significant mineral resources.
Australian Capital Territory Water Management Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 – this Bill, if passed, will continue the improvement in governance of water within the Murray-Darling Basin by amending the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 so the abstraction of water on national land in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is no longer managed by the Commonwealth Government but by the government of the ACT under the Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT).
New South Wales
Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill 2013– there iscurrently a moratorium on the creation of new marine parks and the alteration or creation of sanctuary zones within existing marine parks under the Marine Parks Act 1997. This government Bill, if passed, will allow alterations to the areas of existing sanctuary zones, or the classification of areas as new sanctuary zones, within marine parks. The Bill will also provide for reviews of zoning plans for marine parks, and allow the Marine Parks Authority to conduct reviews of zoning plans for marine parks during the moratorium period.
National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Illegal Forestry Operations) Bill 2012 – this private members Bill will, if passed, create a new offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 in relation to carrying out forestry operations, and increase the penalties for breaching conditions of a licence issued under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013 – passed Legislative Assembly, now being considered by the Legislative Council – this Bill sets out a framework for new land access arrangements. Among other things, it strengthens investigation and enforcement powers, including the power to issue remedial directions without notice, new offences (including new personal liability for directors and managers), and higher maximum penalties for non-compliance; and introduces mandatory code of practice for land access for petroleum exploration, and provides greater access to environmental information about petroleum activities.
If passed, the Bill will increase the compliance burden on energy and resources participants in NSW.
Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Act 2013 – this Act will significantly reform the vegetation management framework in Queensland by reducing red tape and the regulatory burden on landholders, business and government, simplifying and streamlining the vegetation management framework, supporting Queensland's key economic pillars of construction, resources, agriculture and tourism, and maintaining sustainable vegetation clearing practices to protect native vegetation.
Housing and Urban Development (Administrative Arrangements) Urban Renewal Amendment Bill 2013 - sets out new statutory powers for the Urban Renewal Authority in relation to urban infill in Adelaide and details an alternative planning process with provision for the declaration of areas as “urban precincts”.
Tasmania Forests Agreement Act 2012 – this controversial legislation to implement the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, signed between industry and conservation stakeholders in 2010, was passed on 2 May 2013. The law, which was significantly amended from its original form, will take effect on 3 June 2013. The Act provides for:
- a reduction in the current minimum wood supply requirements, from 300,000m3 to 137,000m3,
- establishment of a Special Council, comprised of signatories to the Tasmanian Forests,
- agreement and government representatives, to advise the Minister on implementation of the agreement,
- a staged process for the creation of reserves in areas of State forest currently available for harvesting. Any orders in relation to proposed reserves are required to pass through both houses of parliament a second time.
Controversial amendments to the Act, made by the Legislative Council, include:
- allowing access to reserves for small scale harvesting of specialty timber,
- preventing the creation of reserves over many of the identified areas until Forestry Tasmania has achieved Forest Stewardship Council certification,
- requiring the ‘durability report’ regarding implementation of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement submitted with each proposed reserves order to consider any significant protest action or market campaign activity, if requested by either House of Parliament.
For more information about this legislation, click here.
Interim Guidelines on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area - for Proponents of Actions
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has just released its Interim Guidelines on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area - for Proponents of Actions. The aim of these guidelines is to assist any person proposing to undertake development, activity or action in or adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef that may impact on the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to decide whether the action will require approval under national environment law.
The guidelines can be accessed here.
Tasmanian Biosecurity Strategy released
The Tasmanian Biosecurity Strategy 2013–2017, a policy statement setting the direction for Tasmania’s biosecurity system, was released in early May. The Strategy sets out a range of actions that will be taken to protect industry, the environment and public health from the negative impacts of pests, diseases and weeds. The Strategy is available here.
New native vegetation reforms
The Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Ryan Smith MP, released reforms to Victoria's native vegetation permitted clearing regulations on 22 May 2013. He said the reforms were about striking the right balance between protecting the environment and assisting the state’s farmers and landholders to make the best possible decisions about managing their land. A key benefit of the reforms is the provision of online maps providing detailed information to landholders about native vegetation on their properties. Details are available here.
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News and events from NELA’s partners
Events offered by NELA’s partners often provide substantial savings for NELA members - so check them out and make the most of your NELA membership!
(ACT) Whaling in the Antarctic before the International Court of Justice
This conference seeks to review the background to the Whaling in the Antarctic case, the Australian application before the International Court of Justice with respect to Japan’s conduct of its JARPAII whaling program in the Southern Ocean, the proceedings to date, and the possible implications of the case for the International Whaling Commission. Consideration will also be given to the anticipated legal argument that will be made before the court, and New Zealand’s 2012 Declaration of Intervention and the February 2013 Order deciding that the New Zealand intervention was permissible.
When: 9am to 1pm, Friday, 7 June 2013
Where: Innovations Theatre, Australian National University
RSVP: Online by COB 6 June
For more information, click here.
(Aus) ACIUCN Science Informing Policy Symposium Series - The Future of Australia's Marine Environment
When: 12–13 June 2013
Where: Leopard Room, Melbourne Zoo
This symposium brings together experts from across government, academic and NGO sectors to discuss strategic conservation issues in a collegiate environment. It will discuss the future of Australia’s marine environment in the context of the global outlook for marine conservation and key issues such as the better management of our most productive marine areas, the challenge of managing large and remote marine protected areas, the challenge of the resource development boom for protecting our species and ecosystems and how to build constituencies of support and partnerships, including Indigenous management of Sea Country, for marine conservation.
For more information or to register, please contact Penelope Figgis by email or
telephone 0416 364 722.
(Canada) Canadian Bar Association 2013 Annual National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Summit
Natural Resource and Energy Legal Developments: North and South of 60
This summit is designed to provide private practitioners, in-house corporate and government counsel, regulators, and other professionals with an annual update on the hottest issues in the environmental, energy and resources law field.
When: June 20 – 21, 2013
Where: The Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
For more information, click here.
(UK) 25th Anniversary UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) Conference
The Next 25 Years: The future for environmental law
This upcoming UKELA conference includes a number of international speakers including Professor Jonas Ebbesson (Chair of the Aarhus Compliance Committee), Sibylle Grohs (Compliance Promotion, Governance and Legal Issues, DG Environment, European Commission) and Jeffrey Gracer (Principal, Sive Paget & Riesel; Chair of the New York Bar Environmental Law Committee).
When: 12–14 July 2013
Where: Cambridge University, UK
There will be discussions involving practitioners and breakout sessions including biodiversity; sustainable development; climate change mitigation in China; marine management and costs in environmental cases.
For more information or to register, please click here. NELA members are eligible for a discount on the full residential package; to learn more about this discount, please contact us.
(Aus) Building the Capacity of Australia's Professionals to Respond to Climate Change
Tickets are now on sale for Learning to Adapt 5 - Building the Capacity of Australia's Professionals to Respond to Climate Change.
This important Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) NSW and Australian Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Settlements and Infrastructure (ACCARNSI) initiative has been designed to update, train and facilitate learning in climate change adaptation and features a a full day seminar and training workshops.
When: 8.30 am to 5.15 pm, Thursday 1 August 2013
Where: University of New South Wales
For further information and to register please click here.
(NZ) Resource Management Law Association Conference 2013
Black and White Gold – Does it all Glitter?
When: 26-28 September 2013
Where: New Plymouth International Quality Hotel and Conference Centre.
RMLA’s annual conference will continue the quest to reconcile economic opportunity and environmental protection using two industries of central relevance to the Taranaki Region, petroleum and dairy, as case studies.
The conference program is at an advanced stage of development and sponsorship opportunities are currently on offer. For more information, click here.
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(NSW) Macquarie University Climate Futures Seminar Series: Australia's Climate Change and Energy Dilemma - The case for emergency action
This seminar, presented by Ian Dunlop (a former an international oil, gas and coal industry executive and current director of Australia21, chairman of Safe Climate Australia, member of the Club of Rome and fellow of the Centre for Policy Development) will examine the most critical climate change and energy issues facing Australia in both the short and long term and will be followed by a roundtable discussion. Afternoon tea will be provided.
When: 2 - 3pm, Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Where: Biology tearoom, E8A 280, Macquarie University
For more information or to RSVP (for catering purposes), please contact Leigh Staas.
(Aus – various locations) Legalwise Seminars
Legalwise Seminars runs over 400 legal seminars per year with the most up-to-date content, expert speakers and interactive opportunities to learn. All seminars are CPD accredited and NELA members receive a 10% discount.
Check out their website for their regularly updated program, or click on any of the below upcoming offerings for more information.
(NZ) 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
The prestigious 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium will be held on 24–28 June 2013 at the Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand and is the premier international environmental law conference worldwide.
The Colloquium is supported by NELA and NELA members are entitled to register at IUCN member rates (with savings of up to $200 on a full registration). A limited number of places are left for attendance at the Colloquium, and registration for this event will make a critical and important difference to the success of the Colloquium by assisting it to break even financially.
For more information about the Colloquium, including the program, and to register, click here.
(NSW) Australia’s Environmental Challenges Discussion Panel
Senior academics from the UTS Faculty of Law and UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures will speak about Australia’s most pressing environmental challenges and how their research will contribute to addressing those issues. A Q&A session will be held after the panel discussion.
This event is being held as a complement to the 2013 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium. Representatives from the Colloquium will be attending, presenting an excellent opportunity to network with other environmental law specialists from around the world. Drinks and canapés will precede the panel discussion.
When: 6–7.30 pm, 1 July 2013
Where: UTS Faculty of Law, corner of Quay Street and Ultimo Road, Haymarket
RSVP: Online by 25 June 2013.
For more information, click here.
(Aus – various locations) Australian Wild Law Alliance (AWLA) – upcoming events
Wild law is a legal theory and social movement which proposes that we rethink our legal, political, economic, and governance systems so that they support, rather than undermine, the integrity and health of the Earth. Learn more and become part of the movement at AWLA’s upcoming events:
- (Qld) Wild Law 2013: AWLA’s Major Conference Event – 27–29 September 2013 – online registration now open; abstracts for presentations etc being accepted until 30 June
- (Qld, Vic, WA) Workshop and seminar series: Exploring community and nature’s rights – 30 September to 5 October 2013 – these workshops will explore different approaches to protecting the rights of local communities and nature and feature Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil from the USA’s Community Environmental Legal Defence Fund (CELDF), Nati Green from Ecuador’s Fundación Pachamama and leaders from a range of Australian organisations, including Lock the Gate Alliance.
- (Qld) – Environmental Justice Symposium – 5 and 6 December 2013 – more details will be available soon.
For more information about each event, or to RSVP, please click here
(UK) Garner Lecture 2013: The Common Laws of the Environment: At home and abroad
Lord Carnwath JSC, who is the President of UKELA and the Planning and Environment Bar Association, is giving this year’s Garner lecture.
When: 6pm, 19 November 2013
Where: To be confirmed
The lecture is being held as a partnership with the Journal of Environmental Law and videolinks will be available. Please note the date in your diary. Bookings will open in September.
(Fiji) 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas
Natural Solutions: Building Resilience for a Changing Pacific
Registrations are now open for this conference.
When: 2 – 6 December 2013
Where: University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
For more information or to register, please click here.
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Opportunities for Comment
Draft COAG regulation impact statement for consultation on the regulation of water market intermediaries
Stakeholders in the water sector have expressed concern about the potential for the conduct and practices of water market intermediaries to impact on irrigators and other water market participants; this regulation impact statement outlines the problem and four response options (no action, publication of additional guidance material, a voluntary accreditation scheme and a mandatory licensing scheme) and provides a preliminary impact analysis of each of these options. Submissions are invited until
7 June 2013. For more information or to make a submission, click here.
Draft National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment Regulation
The Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education invites comment on its draft National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment Regulation.
The draft proposes the following four areas of change to streamline reporting under the National Greenhouse Energy and Reporting Scheme:
- reduce the requirements for reporting uncertainty,
- introduce new materiality thresholds for reporting certain types of fuel combustion,
- encourage wider use of existing streamlining provisions, and
- clarify the circumstances in which reporters can move between methods of measuring emissions.
Submissions are invited until 7 June 2013. For more information or to make a submission, click here.
Reducing emissions from wood heaters
The Council of Australian Governments Standing Council on Environment and Water is seeking information and perspectives from the public on options for reducing emissions from wood heaters.
Submissions are invited and are due by 15 July 2013.
For more information or to make a submission, click here.
Mineral and Energy Exploration – draft report of the Productivity Commission
The Productivity Commission is inviting submissions on its draft report on its inquiry into the non-financial barriers to mineral and energy exploration.
Among other things, in this inquiry the Commission was to determine whether there was evidence of unnecessary regulatory burden, to examine the complexity and time frames of government approvals processes for exploration, to examine areas of duplication between and within Local, State, Territory and Commonwealth regulation that can be triggered throughout an exploration project, the costs of non-financial barriers and to consider options to improve the regulatory environment for exploration activities, having regard to regulatory objectives.
The deadline for submissions is 15 July 2013.
For more information about the report or to make a submission, click here.
New South Wales
Sydney Water Catchment Management Regulation
The Sydney Water Catchment Management Regulation 2008 is due to be repealed on 1 September 2013 under the Subordinate Legislation Act 1989. This regulation gives the Sydney Catchment Authority powers to regulate access to, and conduct in, the protected catchment areas and the areas immediately around water supply infrastructure. It also provides the Authority with the compliance powers it needs to protect water quality, and to operate effectively.
The Sydney Catchment Authority proposes to remake the existing regulation with some minor amendments. Submissions on the proposed regulation are invited until COB on 14 June 2013.
For more information or to make a submission, click here.
Local Government Acts Taskforce
A rewrite of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) and the City of Sydney Act 1988 (NSW) has been proposed. The Minister for Local Government has appointed a four member Local Government Acts Taskforce to develop new legislation. A copy of the taskforce’s discussion paper can be found here.
Submissions on the discussion paper are invited until 28 June 2013. For more information or to make a submission, click here.
Solicitor – EDO Victoria
EDO Victoria is seeking a solicitor to join its legal advice and litigation team. Working under EDO Vic’s Principal Solicitor as part of a collaborative team of lawyers, the successful candidate will need to be ready to hit the ground running on a variety of cases large and small ranging across climate change, biodiversity, public land management, planning and pollution control.
For more information, including a position description, click here. Applications close 14 June 2013.
Volunteer contributors—NELA Bulletin
NELA seeks volunteers to contribute to the law and policy developments section of the NELA Bulletin for all States and Territories except NSW, and for the Commonwealth. Estimated time commitment is around 1-2 hours a month.
Please contact Ellen Geraghty by email or mobile 0407 459 490 for more information.
Peter Cullen Trust Science to Policy Leadership Program 2013
Applications are now open for the Peter Cullen Trust’s 2013 Science to Policy Leadership Program.
The closing date for applications for employer-funded applicants is 5pm, 1 July 2013.
For more information or to apply for this program, click here.
Current issues in environmental law intensive offered at University of Tasmania
The University of Tasmania’s winter intensive course, Current Issues in Environmental Law (LAW639) will examine how environmental issues can affect major projects and developments and how environmental controversies can influence legal, social and political change. The course will address such issues as:
- the super trawler, Abel Tasman
- the Tasmanian Forestry debate
- coal seam fracking
- water rights in a drying world
- protecting Antarctica
- international climate change negotiations.
The course is HECS-free, non-law students are very welcome to enrol and no prior law study is necessary. The course is also a valuable professional development opportunity for those from a broad range of professions.
More information regarding this course is available here.
Sustainable Energy Law: New graduate course at Australian National University (ANU)
The ANU College of Law is offering a new Sustainable Energy Law course, developed with the Australian National University’s Energy Change Institute. The course is designed for professionals from public and private sectors with an interest in better understanding the legal framework that applies to and affects the renewable energy industry. It explores the rapidly evolving policy, legal and regulatory issues relating to renewable energy projects. It may be taken for professional development with no assessment, and is open to law and non-law graduates.
For more information about this course, click here.
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Book: Innovation for 21st Century Conservation
Editors: Penelope Figgis, James Fitzsimons and Jason Irving
The Australian Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ACIUCN) has published the case studies presented at their Innovation for 21st Century Conservation Symposium held on 20–21 March, 2012. The symposium was organised from the perspective that despite important achievements in conservation, all the evidence points to profound pressures and continuing decline in biodiversity across Australia. As the scale of threats increases, the need for innovation in conservation management has never been greater.
In rising to this challenge, the ACIUCN have provided a beautifully presented and informative collection of thought-provoking articles. It includes examples of the best current approaches to terrestrial conservation in Australia and innovation in action, thoughts on future directions for policy development and governance as well as the personal reflections of those with long-standing commitment to environmentalism and Indigenous rights.
The discussion of new models, new ways of forging partnerships and new ways to manage and finance conservation is an extremely useful resource. The publication may be downloaded here or here.