Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your browser

 

Header

December 2014

You are receiving this Bulletin because you are a member of NELA.

If you have been forwarded a complimentary copy of the Bulletin and would like to receive it regularly, please join or renew your membership with NELA here.

The NELA Bulletin is published on the first Thursday of each month except January.

Contributions to the Bulletin are welcome and free of cost and should be emailed to the editor by; 5pm AEST; on the preceding Friday.


Follow us
 
Join us

 

This month


NELA news and events
01. National NELA Conference a great success
02. WA NELA Seminar: Worlds Apart? A Comparative Analysis of Environmental Law in America and Australia
03. Australian Environmental Law Digest – contributions invited
04. Last chance for 2014 NELA Essay Competition
05.Follow us on Twitter

Law and policy developments
06. In the legislature
07. In the courts
08. Policy developments and other news

Events
09. (Ocean Shores) Our Pets, Our Wildlife: Perspectives on responsible pet ownership and conservation
10. (Canberra) 'Surviving Earth' screening and panel discussion
11. (Sydney) Nature Conservation Council's 10th Biennial Bushfire Conference
12. (Hawaii) 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

Open for Comment
13. Commonwealth
14. New South Wales
15. Northern Territory
16. Queensland
17. South Australia
18. Tasmania
19. Western Australia

Opportunities
20. Work
21. Other

Resources
22. Free EDO NSW publications
23. Facebook group for environmental law research students

NELA news and events

National NELA Conference a great success

The NELA national conference, held on 21 November 2014, attracted a large crowd to hear from a range of excellent speakers from the judiciary, legal profession, industry, consultants and academia. From the opening address by NSW Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes MP, calling for environmental law to be reframed in a property law context, to the closing panel discussion about how environmental law can regain lost traction, the conference was an engaging and constructive discussion about the future of environmental law and policy in Australia.

Conference presentations are available on the NELA website, and papers will be published in an upcoming special edition of the Australian Environmental Law Digest.

NELA extends a huge thanks to Legalwise Seminars for their outstanding support in delivering the conference.

 

WA NELA Seminar: Worlds Apart? A Comparative Analysis of Environmental Law in America and Australia

On 25 November 2014, almost 40 NELA members and others attended a breakfast seminar delivered by Patrick Pearlman, Principal Solicitor of EDO WA.

The two legal systems both trace back to England and common law traditions, but have evolved in radically different directions. That divergence has produced dramatically different considerations for lawyers advocating on behalf of the public interest, particularly in the related fields of environmental and administrative law.

Patrick provided an overview of the constitutional, legislative and institutional underpinnings of the two nations’ legal systems before drilling down to specific examples of how environmental laws can (or should) be applied to better serve the public interest. The presentation provoked an interesting discussion of Australian environmental approval systems.

Thanks go to our host, DLA Piper, Patrick Pearlman and the WA NELA Committee for organising the event.

 

Australian Environmental Law Digest – contributions invited

Contributions are invited for the February edition of the Australian Environmental Law Digest.

Contributions on any topic are welcome, however we are particularly interested in articles discussing approvals and enforcement issues in your State.

Articles should be 1,500 – 2,000 words, and can be emailed to review@nela.org.au. The deadline for articles for the next edition is 15 January 2015.

 

Last chance for 2014 NELA Essay Competition

The 2014 NELA Essay Competition is closing soon!

Essays addressing the theme, Are we selling ourselves short?, can be submitted by any undergraduate or postgraduate student enrolled at an Australian tertiary institution.

Essays should be between 4,000 – 7,000 words in length and must be received by 12 December 2014. Winners in each of the undergraduate and postgraduate categories will receive $1,000 and a 12-month NELA membership. Appropriate entries will also be published in the Environment and Climate Change Law Library.

For more information, including the competition guidelines, click here.

 

Follow us on Twitter

The NELA Twitter feed is a great way to stay up to date with environmental law developments in Australia in between issues of the Bulletin. We tweet updates, articles and podcasts, as well as jobs, events and other things which are going to expire before the next issue of the Bulletin is published.

It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t have to be on Twitter (though we welcome follows if you are) – just Google @NELA_Australia or click here to see what’s been happening lately.


back to top

 

Law and policy developments

In the legislature

Commonwealth

Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment Regulations 2014

This Regulation sets out the relevant accreditation frameworks and country and State-specific guidelines which must be complied with in order for timber to be lawfully imported from Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and other regional countries.

The Regulations follow the announcement by Hon Greg Hunt MP and Senator Richard Colbeck of $6M in funding to implement the third phase of the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) program.

 

Australian Capital Territory

Environment Protection Act 1997 amended

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2014, introduced following a review of the Environment Protection Act 1997, has been passed. The Bill introduces significant amendments giving the Environment Protection Authority more effective powers to deal with polluters, broadening the definition of ‘environmental harm’ to include ‘likely’ or ‘potential’ harm, and removing Government immunity from criminal liability.

 

Nature Conservation Bill 2014

The Nature Conservation Bill 2014 was passed in the Legislative Assembly on 27 November 2014, with all but one amendment passed with tri-partisan support. The Bill was amended significantly to address concerns raised by a number of organisations, such as adopting an ecosystem approach to complement existing provisions for identifying, listing and managing threatened species and habitats. The Bill also strengthens the role of the Conservator (see below for information about the new Conservator) and provides for greater transparency and more timely review of documents such as the Nature Conservation Strategy, Action Plans and Plans of Management.

 

New South Wales

Self-assessable codes for managing native vegetation

The NSW Government has released three new self-assessable codes for managing native vegetation:

  • Clearing of paddock trees in a cultivation area

  • Thinning of native vegetation

  • Clearing of invasive native species

They are the first of a series of self-assessable codes announced as part of the changes to the regulation of native vegetation clearing in NSW.

 

Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Bill 2014

This Act amends the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 to provide for certain pending applications for petroleum titles (where the applicant is not currently the title holder) to be expunged. The Bill has passed both houses, but is yet to receive assent.

 

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The following Private Member’s Bills have been introduced to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979:

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Repeal of Game Park Prohibitions) Bill 2012 - seeks to repeal prohibitions on the use and operation of game parks.

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Fowl Keeping) Bill 2014 – seeks to prohibit the use of cages for laying fowl and de-beaking practices

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Pig Keeping) Bill 2014 – seeks to require pig keepers to provide appropriate accommodation for pigs.

The text of these Bills is not currently available online.

 

State Energy and Water Utilities Protection (Referendum) Bill 2014

A Private Member’s Bill has been introduced seeking to prevent the privatisation of State energy and water utilities without the approval of a referendum.  

 

Fisheries Management Amendment Bill 2014

This Bill proposes to loosen the licensing arrangements for commercial fishing boats, allowing the Minister to make orders in relation to possession limits (irrespective of the limits set by regulation), requiring registration of share dealings and online trading, and prohibiting shark finning.

The Bill is currently in the Legislative Assembly awaiting its second reading.

 

Queensland

Environmental Offsets Act 2014 amended

Amendments to the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 were formally assented to on 7 November 2014. The amendments make a number of significant changes to remove duplication of offset conditions between Commonwealth, State and local government requirements, provide flexibility regarding financial offsets and extend the period in which an offset delivery plan can be negotiated.

 

Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014

Following the release of a parliamentary report recommending its passage (with Labor members dissenting), the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 was passed on 25 November 2014. The Act amends the Water Act 2000 by replacing the existing two-stage planning framework with a single water plan process and allowing the Minister to reduce public consultation requirements. The amendments also:

  • allow mines to use and manage groundwater without a licence, subject to the preparation of impact reports, baseline assessments and monitoring requirements;

  • allow large water infrastructure projects to receive a ‘water development option’ authorising access to water before the environmental impact assessment is completed; 

  • establish a fast-track process for converting site-specific water licences to tradeable water allocations, potentially without hydrological modelling.

 

Ports Bill 2014

The Ports Bill was also introduced to Parliament on 25 November 2014. The Bill seeks ‘to stimulate Queensland’s economic growth while protected and managing Queensland’s outstanding environmental assets’ (cl 2). This acknowledges the increasing tension between port development and environmental concerns in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (‘GBRWHA’). According to the explanatory notes, the Bill will ‘deliver greater certainty for industry about the future development of ports’ (p 1).

The explanatory notes state that the Bill will address UNESCO concerns regarding the GBRWHA by prohibiting dredging within and adjoining the GBRWHA until 2024. This is expressed to apply to new developments and expansions of existing developments. However, this prohibition only applies outside Priority Port Development Areas, which are Abbot Point, Gladstone, Hay Point, Mackay and Townsville. Therefore, dredging will still be permitted in the most controversial areas.

 

Tasmania

Land Use Planning and Approvals (Streamlining of Process) Amendment Bill 2014

The Land Use Planning and Approvals (Streamlining of Process) Amendment Bill 2014 was passed on 20 November 2014. The Bill makes a number of amendments to Tasmania’s principal planning legislation to reduce approval timeframes for strategic planning and development assessment decisions. The Bill also allows interim planning schemes to be introduced without full public hearings in a range of circumstances, and introduces a new process to assess whether proposed scheme amendments are in the “public interest”.

A summary of the changes introduced by the Bill is available here.

 

Anti-protest bill passes

On 25 November 2014, Parliament passed the controversial Workplace (Protection from Protesters) Bill 2014. A range of amendments made by the Tasmanian upper house were accepted by the Lower House in approving the revised legislation.

The Act, principally designed to reduce protest activities in relation to forestry and mining, has been criticised for the breadth of its application and its chilling effect on public debate. The revised Act narrows the premises that are subject to the new laws, including key industries (forestry, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and construction) and government businesses, but excluding shops, public places and warehouses (previously included). The revised Act also removes the proposed mandatory sentencing for offences, but significantly increases the maximum penalties available. Protesters now face fines of up to $10,000 or up to 4 years in prison for obstructing protected business premises.

Click here for an analysis of the implications of the laws in relation to free speech.

 

In the courts

International

Canadian Judge rules landowner may sue Government  over CSG

A landmark court challenge to the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in Canada has seen the Alberta Chief Justice rule that Jessica Ernst, a landowner and oil patch consultant, may proceed with legal action against Alberta Environment, the Energy Resources Conservation Board, and one of Canada's largest unconventional gas drillers over the contamination of her well water.  
Ernst alleges the government failed to properly investigate the contamination and will argue that Canada’s laws do not indemnify the government against such a failure.

 

UK government ordered to clean up air pollution

The European Court of Justice delivered a judgment on 19 November 2014 which will require the UK government to take action to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions "as soon as possible". The case considered whether current plans implemented by the UK were sufficient to address public health concerns and the deadline for emissions reduction previously set by the European Union in the 2008 Air Quality Directive.

For more information, click here.

 

South Australia

Wind Farm challenge rejected

The 35 turbine Stony Gap wind farm in SA's mid-north has been given the go-ahead by the SA Environment, Resources and Development Court, subject to 32 conditions. The objections to the wind farm were based on the potential for negative impacts on health and the fact that the turbines could be seen from nearby homesteads.

While the Court acknowledged that objecting to a wind farm’s visual impact in a rural setting was understandable, the Court determined that they were a desirable form of development and the benefits outweighed the negative visual impact. The Court also heard evidence that the predicted noise emissions from the turbines were within levels established in a 2009 South Australian Guideline.

The Court was critical of the respondent’s health experts, saying that the experts’ testimony did not contain any evidence of a causal link between the operation of wind turbines and the potential health problems that were identified by the Respondents in their challenge of the wind farm.

Click here to read the full decision in Tru Energy Renewable Developments Pty Ltd v Regional Council of Goyder & Ors [2014] SAERDC 48.

 

South Australian Potato Company Pty Ltd & Temuka Farms Pty Ltd v Minister for Sustainability, Environment & Conservation (No 2) [2014] SAERDC 50

The SAERDC has determined a preliminary question concerning the Minister’s ability to vary a water allocation made under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 – in particular whether the Minister was empowered to exercise a discretion in this regard.  In this matter, the Minister submitted that he was legally bound by the Act to vary the allocation provided to the Appellants, while the Appellants submitted that the Minister could exercise discretion.
 
The Court held that its jurisdiction to hear an appeal pursuant to s.156 of the Act was limited to the merits of a variation of a water allocation by the Minister, and did not extend to the question of whether the Minister’s decision was within power or not.

To read this case, click here.

 

Policy developments and other news

International

China and US make climate commitments

On 12 November 2014, the US and China both announced substantial climate change commitments. The announcements are significant as the USA and China account for one third of global greenhouse gas emissions (for a comparison of Australia’s emissions and those of the US and China, click here).

The USA introduced a new target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025, while China has announced plans to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and to increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 20% by 2030. The announcement is the first time that China has agreed to peak its emissions, and the White House expects China will succeed in achieving the 2030 target based on its economic reform program.

 

G20 Endorses Principles on Energy Collaboration, Commits to Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Despite “difficult discussions” and the defence of the coal industry by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the final G20 Leaders Communique includes a significant passage on climate change. The communique includes a recommendation for nations to commit funds to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which Australia had failed to do at the recent UN climate summit in New York.

The Communique also endorses the G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration and contains a commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage ‘wasteful consumption’. Under the Principles, the leaders committed to encouraging and facilitating the ‘design, development, demonstration and widespread deployment of innovative energy technologies, including clean energy technologies’.

 

Commonwealth

Expert panel reports on supertrawler

The Expert Panel appointed to review the Small Pelagic Fishery Declaration banning the operation of a supertrawler in the fishery has released its final report. In respect of the impacts of direct interaction with protected species (such as seals and seabirds) and localised depletion, the report concludes:

  • there remains considerable uncertainty about the level of direct interactions that would result in an adverse environmental impact on pinnipeds, cetaceans and seabirds, but there are opportunities for research and monitoring that could reduce [these] uncertainties

  • localised depletion was unlikely to have a significant impact on target fish species, but has the potential to have adverse impacts on some protected foraging species. The panel noted that such impacts were unlikely to be detected under existing monitoring regimes.

The first ban expired on 19 November 2014. The second ban, which extends to the operation of supertrawlers as ‘motherships’, will expire in April 2015. The Expert Panel will report in respect of the second ban before that date.

The government has yet to formally respond to the Expert Panel report.

 

Wind farm inquiry to proceed

On 24 November 2015, cross bench Senators received support to establish the Select Committee on Wind Turbines to “inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015”. The inquiry will specifically address the following matters:

  • the effect on household power prices, particularly households which receive no benefit from rooftop solar panels, and the merits of consumer subsidies for operators;

  • how effective the Clean Energy Regulator is in performing its legislative responsibilities and whether there is a need to broaden those responsibilities;

  • the role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council in providing guidance to state and territory authorities;

  • the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;

  • the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;

  • the application and integrity of national wind farm guidelines;

  • the effect that wind towers have on fauna and aerial operations around turbines, including firefighting and crop management;

  • the energy and emission input and output equations from whole-of-life operation of wind turbines; and

  • any related matter.

The inquiry follows a number of other investigations, inquiries and reports at the State and Federal level examining issues associated with wind farms, from planning, health and economic perspectives.

 

Productivity Commission finds strong grounds for environmental law advocacy

The Productivity Commission released its Access to Justice Arrangements report on 3 December 2014. The report makes broad ranging recommendations regarding the funding and operation of the legal assistance sector, specifically noting the role of EDOs in promoting public interest environmental outcomes. The Commission concluded that there are “strong grounds for the legal assistance sector to receive funding to undertake strategic advocacy, law reform and public interest litigation including in relation to environmental matters.”

To read the full report, click here.

 

Climate and Energy Reports

A range of reports have recently been released addressing Australia’s energy and climate change policies. 

The Climate Council has released the following reports

The Business Council of Australia has also released Australia’s Energy Advantages, a report which sets out the Council’s vision for energy policy in Australia and an action agenda to “maximise the benefits of the nation’s energy for all Australians.”

 

Australia’s Biosecurity Future

The CSIRO has released a report, Australia’s Biosecurity Future, which systematically examines the “12 biosecurity mega-shocks” liked to affect Australia in the next 20-30 years. The report assesses what needs to be done in Australia to minimise these shocks and protect the environment, industries, people and way of life.

 

The Australia We Love: A Report on Key Issues affecting nature and society in Australia

The Places You Love Alliance has released a new report compiling the findings of a survey of Australia’s natural systems - rivers, energy, climate, food, forests, waste and pollution, land management, oceans and reefs. The report notes the high, and increasing, consumption of natural resources in Australia and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience that results from this consumption.

 

Wentworth Group Releases Blueprint for a Healthy Environment and a Productive Economy

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has released a blueprint which describes the magnitude of the environmental challenges facing Australia and the long-term institutional and economic reforms that the Wentworth Group believes are essential to achieve environmental and economic prosperity. These reforms address:

  • Reactive land and water use planning

  • Using markets more effectively

  • Conserving natural capital

  • Regionalising management and planning processes

  • Creating environmental accounts.

The blueprint was authored by the Wentworth Group in consultation with a number of experts, including the Hon Paul Stein AM QC, Mr Martijn Wilder AM and Dr Ken Henry AC FASSA.

 

Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database 2014 released

Every two years, the Australian Government collates information on protected areas from state and territory Governments and other protected area managers in the Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD). The CAPAD provides a national perspective of the conservation of biodiversity in protected areas, and contributes to Australia’s reports to the World Database on Protected Areas.

Click here to access the 2014 updated CAPAD.

 

Australian Capital Territory

New Conservator appointed

Dr Annie Lane has recently been appointed by the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate as the new Conservator of Flora and Fauna. Dr Lane brings a wealth of experience to the position, having previously worked as the Regional Manager of the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Dr Lane and is a well-respected leader in the environmental conservation industry.

 

New South Wales

Warkworth mine recommended for approval

IThe NSW Department of Planning and Environment has recommended the approval of Rio Tinto's Warkworth coal mine expansion near the village of Bulga in the Hunter Valley, despite court rulings in favour of Bulga residents. The NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will now assess and determine the project, with a hearing to be held in Singleton on 18 December 2014.

Read more about the previous Land and Environment Court and Court of Appeal decisions.

 

Proposed coastal reforms

The NSW Government has announced the second stage of its reforms to coastal management law, including:

  • a proposed new Coastal Management Act to replace existing legislation;

  • new arrangements to support council decision making, including a decision support framework, a new coastal management manual, and improved technical advice; and

  • changes to funding and financing for coastal management activities.

The reforms will be developed with input from the Coastal Expert Panel, and public consultation is expected to occur in future. Read more about the reforms here.

 

Proposed planning reforms

The Government has also announced reforms to streamline the planning system, including:

  • Introducing clear timeframes for the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) and other assessment processes;

  • Appointing case managers from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to manage planning applications through complex government processes;

  • Establishing a whole-of-government approach to assessing State significant mining applications;

  • Setting up a panel of independent experts to advise the Government and the PAC on technical issues;

  • Giving clearer guidance to the PAC on the application of government policies;

  • Engaging better with communities affected by mining proposals by providing clearer information and more opportunities for community questions to be answered; and

  • Appointing additional compliance officers in regional areas.

 

Northern Territory

Fracking inquiry report expected soon

The Commissioner appointed to conduct an inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the NT, Dr Alan Hawke, has handed his report to the NT Government. The report is expected to be released to the public in the coming weeks.

 

Tiwi Islands Fishing Access Agreement

The NT Government reports that a 20-year agreement has been made with the Tiwi Land Council concerning recreation and commercial fishing access to Tiwi waters that includes:

  • $135,000 a year to support the Marine Ranger Program;

  • A commitment to enhance the powers of Marine Rangers;

  • A one-off $30 000 payment to build a new recreational fishing camp;

  • An enhanced Aboriginal coastal licence for community members;

  • A Code of Conduct to ensure visitors respect the rights of Traditional Owners.

 

MOU Gas pipeline to connect with East Coast of Australia

The NT Government has signed an MOU with the NSW Government and is calling for expressions of interest to build a pipeline connecting with the east cost gas pipeline network.

 

Management Plan for Nitmiluk National Park

The Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park third Plan of Management has been finalised with Jawoyn Traditional Owners. The park is jointly managed by Traditional Owners and the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission.

 

Tasmania

Arthur-Pieman tracks to be re-opened

The State Government has announced plans to invest $300,000 to re-open 90 kilometres of off-road vehicles tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area (APCA) on Tasmania’s North-West Coast by Christmas. The use of off-road tracks in this sensitive area has been the subject of long running controversy and tension between recreational vehicle users, conservationists and Tasmanian Aboriginal communities. Fifteen of the sixty-five tracks in the APCA were closed in 2012 after extensive public consultation. Re-opening the tracks was an election commitment of the now Liberal government.

The proposal, which covers areas within the National heritage listed Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape, has been condemned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

 

Widespread interest in tourist developments in national parks

Earlier in 2014, the Tasmanian Government announced that it would be accepting expressions of interest for tourism developments in the state’s National Parks and World Heritage Area. The period for expressions of interest has now closed, with 37 EOIs received ranging from “nature-based experiences through to accommodation and associated tourism-related infrastructure.” The EOIs have not been released.

The proposals will be subject to a high level assessment of appropriateness by an Assessment Panel, with successful proponents then asked to provide more detailed proposals. Proposals assessed as viable will then be assessed under normal statutory approval processes.

 

Victoria

Report on Victorian contaminated sites reforms

A new report from the Victorian EPA has highlighted the economic effectiveness of the State’s contaminated sites reforms, with the EPA revealing that the changes are saving industry $3.96 million annually.

According to the report, the savings relate to changes in the way that the obligation to clean up to the extent practicable (CUTEP) is measured, including:

  • reducing the time taken for a CUTEP decision;

  • exempting low-risk CUTEP decisions from approval by the EPA, and instead allowing an auditor to decide; and

  • increasing the proportion of auditors on longer appointment periods

 

Western Australia

EPA Recommends against Mine on the Mungada Ridge Banded Ironstone Formation

The WA EPA has released a report recommending that the Blue Hills Mungada East Expansion Project should not proceed because it would cause irreversible environmental consequences. The proponent, Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited, proposed to develop a new pit on the Mungada Ridge, a banded ironstone formation located about 220 km east-southeast of Geraldton and 320 km north-northeast of Perth.

On 10 November 2014, the WA EPA determined the proposal to be environmentally unacceptable. In its report, the EPA stated that there was sufficient, publicly available information on the significance of the Mungada Ridge landform and the aggregation of values supported by that landform to gain an informed understanding of the significant environmental impacts that would occur if the proposal was implemented. Furthermore, the EPA determined that the proposal could not be managed to meet the EPA’s objective for landforms.

The EPA report described the Mungada Ridge as the last large, substantively intact landform remaining in the Blue Hills area which has been identified as possessing the greatest landscape and biodiversity values in the area and concluded that the proposal would result in serious and irreversible impact to the integrity of Mungada Ridge.

 

WA to extend life of environmental licences up to 20 years

Under a new guidance statement released in November 2014, the WA Department of Environment Regulation (DER) will be allowed to issue licences with a lifespan of up to 20 years, a significant increase from the previous limit of 5 years. 

The decision to extend the lifespan of licences was based on the view that reviewing licences frequently created an unnecessary administrative burden, without leading to better environmental outcomes. Under the new approach, DER staff would have more time to monitor compliance with licence conditions. 

Most new licences are expected to now be issued for 20 years, and it is planned that this longer timeframe will be phased into existing licences.

 

back to top

 

Events

Events offered by NELA’s partners (marked Header) can provide substantial savings for NELA members - so check them out and make the most of your NELA membership!

(Ocean Shores) Our Pets, Our Wildlife: Perspectives on responsible pet ownership and conservation

This free community seminar will feature a series of speakers who will present perspectives, practical advice and information about the interaction between our companion animals and wildlife.

The workshop includes talks from the Animal Law Education Project (ALEP), Brunswick Area Responsible Canine Owners (BARCO), Byron Bird Buddies and EDO NSW.

Talks will address local bird identification, habitat necessity and decline, native wildlife laws, laws relating to companion animals (pets), issues with dogs on beaches and sustainably sharing our habitat with local wildlife.

When : 10am-1pm, Saturday 6 December
Where : Ocean Shores Country Club, Orana Rd, Ocean Shores NSW

RSVP is essential. Visit the EDO NSW website or contact 02 6621 1070 or; education@edonsw.org.au for more information.

 

(Canberra) 'Surviving Earth' screening and panel discussion

The documentary, Surviving Earth, will be screened at the Australian National University on 8 December 2014. Surviving Earth is a critical examination of resource depletion, environmental degradation and climate change, directed by Peter Charles Downey. 

When: 6:30pm, 8 December 2014 (7:00pm screening, 8:40pm panel discussion).
Where: Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtain School of Medical Research

 

(Sydney) Nature Conservation Council's 10th Biennial Bushfire Conference

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is proud to present its 10th Biennial Bushfire Conference Fire and Restoration: working with fire for healthy lands. Further details of the conference themes and a call for abstracts and registrations will follow soon. This two day, multi-disciplinary fire management conference will focus on how fire can be used to rehabilitate degraded landscapes, restore ecological integrity and reinstate resilience into the environment and the community.

When: 9am – 5pm, 26 and 27 May 2015
Where: NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre, Surry Hills, Sydney

For more information, contact Michelle Rose, NCC Bushfire Program Coordinator at bushfireconf2015@nature.org.au or 9516 0359

 

(Hawaii) 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

Held every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and indigenous and grass-roots organizations to discuss and decide on solutions to the world’s most pressing environment and development challenges.

When: 1 to 10 September 2016
Where: Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

The last World Conservation Congress was held in 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea. More information about the 2016 Congress will be shared here as it becomes available.

 

back to top

Open for comment

Commonwealth

Agricultural Green Paper

Public submissions in response to the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper can be made until 12 December 2014. The Green Paper outlines ideas on a range of issues including infrastructure, drought support, trade and finance.

For more information, click here.

 

Emissions Reduction Fund - community awareness survey

The Australian Department of the Environment is conducting a short survey amongst the community about the Australian Government's Direct Action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Responses are invited until 31 December 2014. To find out more, click here.

 

Listed species consultations under the EPBC Act

Public comments are invited in respect of proposed listing and assessment documentation for a range of species. Comments will assist the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to determine if nominated species are eligible for inclusion in the threatened species lists, the appropriate listing category and proposed management actions.

Comments close between 21 December 2014 and 30 January 2015, depending on the species. Click here for more details.

Nominations are also open for inclusion of native species, ecological communities or threatening processes for listing under the EPBC Act. Nominations will be accepted until 26 March 2015, and assessed in the period commencing 1 October 2015.

For more information about the nomination process, click here.

 

Independent review of Commonwealth Marine Reserves

The public comment period for the review of the Commonwealth Marine Reserves is now open, with the co-Chairs of the Bioregional Advisory Panels, Professor Colin Buxton and Mr Peter Cochrane, inviting “ideas and suggestions on how marine reserves should be managed into the future.”

The review will focus on zoning and management within the existing reserve network, and has established five Bioregional Advisory Panels (representing the South-west, North-west, North, Temperate East and Coral Sea marine regions) to facilitate consultation with interested parties.

Submissions can be made until 28 February 2015. For more information, click here.

 

Offshore Petroleum Resource Management Review

The Department of Industry has released a Consultation Paper for this Review, identifying key issues affecting the operation of the offshore resource management regime, strategic issues, regulatory compliance costs and investment. The Review notes that indirect factors “including health, safety and environmental regulation, taxation, labour relations, social license to operate and carbon capture and storage” are beyond the scope of the Review, but comments on how those issues affect operations are also invited.

Submissions are due by 6 February 2015. For more information, click here.

 

New South Wales

CESG Discussion Paper - Improving NSW’s Process to Allocate Coal Exploration Licences

The Coal Exploration Steering Group (CESG) was established by the NSW Government in response to the recommendations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption to strengthen the framework governing the management of NSW coal resources.

The Government asked the CESG to make recommendations to improve the quality and transparency of the coal Exploration Licence allocation process.

This CESG has released a discussion paper which seeks to explain in broad terms the key areas of work the CESG is undertaking. The CESG is still developing its proposals and stakeholder feedback on this discussion paper will help inform the CESG's work.

Public comment is invited until 19 December 2014. For more information, click here.

 

Northern Territory

NT EPA waste strategy

The draft waste management strategy released by the Northern Territory EPA seeks to encourage regional councils to establish consolidated recycling infrastructure at central locations. The strategy also promotes closer monitoring of Territory landfill sites, and guides planning decisions in relation to how new waste types arising from the mining and oil and gas industries will be dealt with.

Comment on the draft strategy closes on 5 December 2014.

 

Ranger R3D u-mine

The Northern Territory EPA has released its draft Environmental Impact Statement in relation to the Ranger 3 Deeps Underground mine for public comment. The draft relates to the proposal from Energy Resources of Australia Ltd to ‘produce uranium bearing ore’ for processing at the existing plant at Ranger mine.’

Conservation groups have voiced concerns about the significant difficulties that would be present in trying to rehabilitate the Ranger site to a standard that is suitable for inclusion in the World Heritage Kakadu National Park that surrounds the mine site.

Comment on the draft Environmental Impact statement is due on 12 December 2014. For more information, click here.

 

Queensland

Planning reforms

The Queensland government has introduced the Planning and Development Bill 2014, a major Bill that will replace Queensland’s existing Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) (‘SPA’). The purpose of the Bill is to ‘facilitate Queensland’s prosperity, including through ecologically sustainable development that balances economic growth, environmental protection and community wellbeing’ (cl 3). At 274 sections, the Bill is significantly shorter than SPA, which runs to over 700 sections. It makes substantial changes to the planning process in Queensland, including changes to the types and manner of assessment.

A separate Bill, the Planning and Environment Court Bill 2014, will regulate the Planning and Environment Court.

These Bills will be reviewed by a Parliamentary Committee. Public submissions to the Committee can be made until 19 January 2015.

 

South Australia

Parliamentary Committee Inquiry - Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in the South East

The South Australian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources Management has announced the terms of reference for its inquiry into "potential risks and impacts in the use of hydraulic fracturing to produce gas in the south-east of South Australia". The inquiry itself appeared unlikely in October when an agreement between the Greens and the Liberal Party on its scope could not be reached. However, the Greens amended their initial motion, placing a greater emphasis on the south-east of the State, and received Liberal support to initiate the inquiry.  
The Terms of Reference provide for the inquiry to address:

  • the risks of groundwater contamination;

  • the impacts upon landscape;

  • the effectiveness of existing legislation and regulation; and

  • the potential net economic outcomes to the region and the rest of the State.

Comment on the Terms of Reference closes on 31 January 2015. To find out more, click here.

 

Tasmania

Fracking review

In March 2014, the Tasmania government imposed a 12 month moratorium on fracking, to be implemented through an internal commitment from Mineral Resources Tasmania, while a review was undertaken. The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has released an Issues Paper, Review of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) in Tasmania, for public comment.

The review invites comments on environmental impacts, availability of viable gas deposits, the current regulatory framework and any economic benefits associated with unconventional gas projects.

Comments can be made until 5 December 2014. For more information on the review paper, click here.

 

Western Australia

WA draft environmental regulation principles

The DER has released a new draft guidance statement on regulatory principles which would make biological diversity and ecological integrity fundamental considerations in relation to regulatory decision making. The draft statement will be used to develop further policy and processes in order to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the DER’s regulatory functions under the Environment Protection Act.

According to the draft statement the DER is planning to base its actions on the principles of risk-based regulation, evidence based decision making and the ‘polluter pays principle’.

Submissions on the draft statement close on 17 December 2014. The Draft Guidance Statement and information for submissions is available here.

 

back to top

Opportunities

Work

(Germany) Legal Officer, Environmental Law Centre

The Environmental Law Centre, based in Bonn, Germany, is seeking a Legal Officer to commence in March 2015. The officer will work with the IUCN’s Environmental Law Programme to maintain environmental law services, develop and implement international and national environmental laws, provide technical assistance and promote capacity building in developing countries.

Applications must be received by 5 January 2015.

For details of the position and how to apply, click here.

 

(Australia) Contributors for Environment and Climate Change Law Library

NELA has recently launched its Environment and Climate Change Law Library, which aims to become a comprehensive compilation of articles published on environmental law topics by law firms, academics, consultants and NGOs. To register to become a regular contributor, or to submit a one-off article for inclusion in the Library, please contact Jess Feehely.

 

(Adelaide) Environmental Defenders Office (SA) seeks volunteers for its environmental law advisory service

The EDO (SA) invites lawyers with environmental law experience and who have an unrestricted practicing certificate to offer their services, free of charge, at the EDO Advisory Service on a Thursday evening.

You would be on a roster with other legal practitioners, advising clients face to face on their legal rights in all manner of environmental and planning issues. For more information, click here.

 

(UK) Write for a leading authority on climate change adaptation and business

Acclimatise is a specialist advisory company providing world-class expertise in climate change adaptation and risk management looking to build its growing global contributors network. If you have an article, interview, video or podcast on any aspect of climate change adaptation then Acclimatise would like to hear from you.

For more information about the Acclimatise Network and the benefits of contributing, click here.

Alternatively, send your stories of 400-800 words, along with a short bio and photo (optional), to Will Bugler at w.bugler@acclimatise.uk.com.

 

Other

Environment Minister launches Growing Community Energy Grants

The NSW Minister for the Environment has announced the $700,000 Growing Community Energy grants program. Growing Community Energy will fund early stage development of community energy projects, to help create viable community-owned business models that can attract further investment.

Applications for grants up to $70,000 are open until 12pm on 15 December 2014. Find out more about the Growing Community Energy program, webinar and grant applications on the Office of Environment and Heritage website.

 

Funding for the Organics Infrastructure Program

The EPA and the Environmental Trust are calling for applications for funding for organics waste and recycling infrastructure. Round 2 of the $41 million Organics Infrastructure (large and small program) is open for applications for grants between $25,000 and $5 million to build or supply the infrastructure needed to divert food and garden organic waste from landfill.

Applications are invited from local councils, industry, business and not-for profit organisations until 16 December 2014. To find out more, click here.

 

Closing soon - applications for Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year 2014

The Mahla Pearlman Award for the Australian Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year is awarded annually to a young barrister, solicitor or legal academic who has made a significant contribution to environmental law. The Awards are conducted by the Australian Environment and Planning Law Group of the Law Council's Legal Practice Section.

To be eligible for the Award, a nominee must be:

  • engaged in practice in any Australian jurisdiction (including in private practice, a government law firm, as in-house counsel or in an NGO) or be an academic teaching or researching in the field of environmental law or related area at an Australian university; and

  • under 35 years of age as at 31 October 2014.

The criteria for the Award are:

  • outstanding contribution to the field of environmental law in Australia or internationally; and

  • voluntary contribution to the community, especially to environmental or environmental law non-government organisations (NGOs).

Nominations must be received by 5pm on 12 December 2014 by email to lps@lawcouncil.asn.au.

The award will be presented at the Mahla Pearlman Oration in Sydney on 5 March 2015. The 2015 oration will be delivered by NELA President, Professor Jan Macdonald.

 

Call for support to develop an international law for ecosystems

The Saltus Forum is an independent, not-for-profit think-tank that is initiating a new discussion among leading companies, organizations and experts about the real possibility of an international law for ecosystems.

The Saltus Forum is currently seeking partners and supporting organizations to professionally evaluate and potentially develop such a law.

If you or your organisation are interested in learning more, click here or email Steve Venton.

 

back to top

Resources

If you have a relevant resource (such as a book, paper or website) you would like to share with NELA Bulletin readers, please email the editor.

 

Free EDO NSW publications

EDO NSW has prepared several plain-English guides to environmental law covering topics such as mining law, rural land management, conservation on private land, Aboriginal cultural heritage, coastal protection and more. Click here to access these guides.

EDO NSW also maintains over 50 Fact Sheets on environment and planning law which you can download from their website.

The EDO’s Have Your Say resource is a community guide to influencing decisions that impact the environment. You can read about how to effectively engage with decision-makers, view current opportunities to have your say, and request a workshop for your community.

 

Facebook group for environmental law research students

Postgraduate students at University College London and King’s College London have set up a fantastic Facebook group for environmental law research students around the world. If you are such a student (or even if you’re not), this is a great way to keep in touch with like-minded individuals.

Search Environmental Law Research Student Network in Facebook or click here.

 

back to top


Thanks to the NELA Bulletin team

The NELA Bulletin is researched and written entirely by volunteers. This month, we thank the following people for their contributions:

back to top