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March 2014

The NELA Bulletin is published on the first Thursday of each month. Contributions are welcome and should be emailed to the editor, Ellen Geraghty, by 5pm AEDST on the preceding Friday.

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This Month

NELA news and events
01. NELA executive meeting
02. Exciting new changes to NELA’s publications
03. 2014 NELA Essay competition – Are we selling ourselves short?
04. Breakfast with NELA
05. Recent NELA submissions

Law and policy developments
06. In the legislature
07. In the courts
08. News and policy developments

News and events from NELA’s partners
09. (Auckland) Young RMLA Auckland: Ethics and Advocacy
10. (Melbourne) The Victorian Planning & Environmental Law Association and the Urban       Development Institute of Australia present: How close is too close?
11. (Melbourne) Meet the Policy Drivers
12. (Canada) 2014 Annual Canadian Bar Association Environmental, Energy and Resources       Law Summit
13. (New Zealand) Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) Conference 2014

Other events
14. (Sydney) Mahla Pearlman Oration 2014
15. (Adelaide) Womadelaide – The Planet Talks: When Polly met Peter & Tim
16. (Adelaide) Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) Environment Series:       Earth is our business
17. (Australia – various locations) Legalwise Seminars
18. (Australia – various locations) Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) events
19. (Canberra) Transnational Environmental Crime Project: Black trade, criminal networks and       enforcement responses
20. (Melbourne) EDO Victoria Public Law CPD: CPD for good

21. (Canberra) Being an effective voice for the environment
22. (Adelaide) Planning with Communities: Facilitation and Conflict Resolution
23. (Gold Coast) Queensland Environmental Law Association (QELA) 2014 Conference A Game       of Tomes.
24. (Sydney) 2014 Government Sustainability Conference Call for speakers now open
25. (Sydney) IUCN World Parks Congress 2014

26. Opportunities for comment
27. Roles
28. Study
29. Other
30. Resources

NELA news and events

NELA executive meeting

The NELA national executive met in Melbourne on 13 February for its annual strategic planning session. A focus of this year’s discussion was gaining a better understanding of NELA’s value proposition as a great place to debate environment and climate change law. We discussed holding events ranging from low key networking breakfasts to conferences, and spreading the word about great (and growing) NELA membership benefits.

The session is already starting to show results – you’ll find a listing for the inaugural Sydney Environmental Law Breakfast below – and there are other events and developments in the works.
As ever, if there’s anything you’d like to see us doing, please let us know – after all, we exist to serve you in our mutual quest for the protection of the environment through the law.


Exciting new changes to NELA’s publications

From April, NELA’s National Environmental Law Review will be replaced with a new open access web portal and associated quarterly digest. Over time, the portal will provide a comprehensive compendium of relevant environmental law publications. New items from law firms and other sources will be published on the portal each week and the quarterly digest will send the highlights from the previous three months direct to subscribers’ inboxes.

While the primary audience for both publications is likely to be lawyers and their clients in business and government, we expect that academics, students, non-law professionals (such as planners) and others with either a professional or personal interest in environmental law in Australia will find our new publications of value.  To improve awareness of this valuable resource, the quarterly digest will be freely available for anyone to subscribe to at any time.

The NELA Bulletin (and the associated Recent Developments section of the NELA website) will remain a members-only publication, so encourage your colleagues to join NELA so they can enjoy it too.

A new editorial board, comprising the editor of the Bulletin (Ellen Geraghty), the editor of the new portal and quarterly digest (Jess Feehely) and the NELA webmaster (Sarah Waddell), will work with our magnificent volunteer state and territory editors to keep these developments moving. In the meantime, we are looking for short, snappy and descriptive names for the new portal and quarterly digest and invite members to submit their suggestions to Jess Feehely.


2014 NELA Essay competition – Are we selling ourselves short?

The 2014 Essay Competition, Are we selling ourselves short?, will open shortly. The deadline for submissions will be 12 December 2014 and the competition will be open to any student enrolled at an Australian tertiary institution in either an undergraduate or postgraduate program. NELA members will receive details when the competition opens.


(Sydney) Breakfast with NELA

You are invited to join us for our first Breakfast with NELA, an opportunity for anyone with an interest, whether professional or personal, in environmental law to meet like-minded people to discuss law and policy developments in our state and around the country, what we're all working on, and other matters of mutual interest, in a relaxed environment.

The gathering is not limited to NELA members – friends and colleagues interested in environmental law are also very welcome.

When: 7.45 - 8.45 am, Thursday, 13 March 2014
Where: Bambini Trust Cafe Restaurant, 185 Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Come for the whole hour or just drop in for as long as you're able on your way to work.

RSVPs are encouraged. Please contact Ellen Geraghty  or Sarah Waddell to RSVP or for more information.


Recent NELA submissions

Emissions Reduction Fund
NELA has criticised aspects of the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) in its submission to the ERF Green Paper on 21 February. NELA said the proposal to develop the ‘crediting’ baselines before the ‘compliance’ baselines have been determined, or even before the entities which will be covered by these compliance baselines have been finalized, is very dangerous. 

For a copy of the submission click here. For a copy of the media release click here.


Victorian Water Law Review
NELA highlighted the constraints on local government in meeting the challenge of taking on wider responsibility for water infrastructure as part of ‘whole of water cycle management’ in its submission to the Victorian Water Law Review in February.

For a copy of the submission click here.

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Law and policy developments

In the legislature


Green Army legislation

The Federal Government has introduced legislation into parliament to establish a ‘Green Army’. The Green Army is a voluntary program that will enable Australians aged between 17 and 24 to acquire experience in environmental and heritage conservation fields to explore careers in conservation management. It is anticipated that the ranks for the Green Army will arise from school leavers, those students taking gap years, graduates and job seekers. There will be allowances available to participants and training will also be available.


Senate Committee carbon tax repeal

In December 2013 the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee endorsed the repeal of the so-called carbon tax, established by the Clean Energy Legislation Package. The legislation to repeal the Clean Energy Package legislation is still before the Senate having been passed by the House of Representatives.


Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013

On 3 March 2014 the Senate rejected this Bill, intended to abolish the Climate Change Authority (among other things).

For a copy of the Bill, and details of its progress through Parliament, click here.


Australian Capital Territory

Nature Conservation Bill 2013

The Nature Conservation Bill 2013 is part of the review of the Nature Conservation Act 1980, which, for more than thirty years, has been the chief legislation for the protection of native plants and animals in the ACT and for the management of the conservation reserve network.
The consultation period on this Bill concluded in December 2013; the ACT Legislative Assembly has now passed a motion calling on the ACT Government to establish a roundtable to explore the issues relating to the draft Bill and to provide a detailed report to the Assembly by May 2014 on the range and extent of issues raised by stakeholders on the draft Bill.


New South Wales

Planning Bill 2013

The Planning Bill 2013 will return to the NSW Legislative Assembly for further debate in 2014 because the NSW Legislative Council made almost 50 amendments to the Bill. Amendments include the removal of code assessment provisions, new affordable housing provisions, and the insertion of a definition of “environmentally sensitive area” which includes critical habitat, wilderness areas, and land identified by local plans as an environmentally sensitive area, an area of high Aboriginal cultural significance, or an area of high biodiversity significance. An amendment was also passed by the upper house which would remove provisions in the newly made Mining SEPP relating to the consideration of the significance of resources and non-discretionary development standards for mining.  The Government has indicated that it will be consulting further in the interim.


Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

This Government Bill addresses issues raised in the recent ICAC investigations into mining lease approvals at Doyles Creek, Mount Penny and Glendon Brook by making changes to the relationship between planning and mining approvals and making further provision for the grounds for certain administrative decisions affecting mining rights and petroleum titles.



Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013

The Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013 was introduced to the Queensland Parliament on 20 November 2013. Intended to balance the competing interests of the resource industry with agriculture, environmental protection, and human settlements, and replacing existing legislation like the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011(Qld), among other things the Bill will provide for identification of areas considered to be of ‘regional interest’ due to their contribution to Queensland’s economic, social or environmental prosperity, where resource activities may only be carried out if a proponent holds a regional interest authority, which can be obtained under the proposed Act.

Public submissions regarding the Bill closed on 25 February 2014, and the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee is due to report on the Bill by 17 March 2014.

Environmental Offsets Bill 2014

This Bill was introduced on 13 February 2014. According to its explanatory notes, the Bill is intended to:

  • facilitate a coordinated environmental offsets framework,

  • reduce green tape,

  • remove inconsistency between specific-issue offset policies,

  • remove duplication of environmental assessments,

  • provide stronger environmental outcomes through strategic offset delivery,

  • facilitate governance reform of the National Trust of Queensland and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • clarify provisions under the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995, and

  • make minor amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to address unintended operational problems with the application of the Act.

The Bill is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee.



Amendments to Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995

Amendments to the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995 will take effect on 1 March 2014.  The amended legislation integrates planning and heritage approvals, streamlining the application and assessment process in relation to works proposed for places on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.  The amendments also alter the test for demolition of a listed heritage place, removing the explicit requirement to demonstrate that no “prudent and feasible” alternatives to demolition exist.


In the courts


Challenge to Abbott Point dredging project

The North Queensland Conservation Council, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland, has filed an application with the Administrative Appeal Tribunal in relation to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s decision to grant a permit for the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area (known as the Abbott Point dredging project).

The EDO will argue that argue the approval was not given according to the authority's own criteria for sea dumping.

Further information is available here.


Supertrawler ban

The Federal Court has upheld the two year ban on so-called ‘supertrawlers’ operating within Australian waters, finding that the Environment Minister and the Fisheries Minister were entitled, based on the material before them:

  • to agree that there was uncertainty as to the environmental impact of the supertrawler’s operation, and

  • that it was “appropriate” to prohibit the operation while the uncertainty was resolved.

The full decision is available here.

The current ban on trawling operations will expire in November 2014, with a supplementary ban on use of the supertrawler as a freezing / processing vessel only continuing until March 2015. The expert panel appointed to assess the environmental impacts will report to the Federal Ministers in October 2014, following which a decision will be made regarding any permanent ban.


News and policy developments


Clean Energy Auction Revocation Determination 2014

The Federal Government has signed the Clean Energy Auction Revocation Determination 2014 in order to stop pending carbon tax auctions. The Government has suggested that this will ensure business certainty as businesses will have an understanding that there is no longer a need to participate in these auctions. The repeal of the Clean Energy Package is still in the process of parliamentary debate, however this measure essentially postpones any further industry expenditure.


Renewable Energy Target

The government has released the terms of reference for the review of the Renewable Energy Target. The review is due this year in accordance with the existing legislation. Ian Macfarlane, the Minister for Industry, has commented: ‘ Australia’s diversity of energy sources is one of our greatest national strengths. Renewable energy has contributed to the energy mix, but we must ensure that the program is operating effectively.’ Among other things, the review will advise the government in relation to progress in achieving the Renewable Energy Target and will also ensure that measures can be introduced to ease pressure on electricity prices.


Green Paper for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

In December 2013 the Coalition government released the Emissions Reduction Fund Green Paper setting out a ‘cost-effective, practical and simple approach to reduce our national emissions’. At the centre of this approach is the Emissions Reduction Fund, which will commence on 1 July 2014 with the purpose of purchasing carbon credits created through projects. The funding for this policy has been costed to 2020. The Government will follow this proposal with a White Paper once the submissions in response to the Green Paper have been assessed.


Senate inquiry into Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area wind back

On 13 February 2014, the Senate requested that the Standing Committees on Environment and Communications conduct an inquiry into the Federal Government's proposal to reduce the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).  The inquiry will review the natural world heritage values of the TWWHA’s minor boundary extension, the extent and description of any degraded forest within the boundaries and the Government’s process for re-evaluating the value of the area.

The Standing Committee will report to the Senate by 15 May 2014. 

For more information, click here.


Climate Change Authority recommends 15% reduction target by 2020

The final report of the Climate Change Authority’s Targets and Progress Review was released on 27 February 2014 and recommended that:

  • Australia should target a minimum reduction of 15% in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 2000 levels, by 2020. (This would represent a significant tightening of Australia’s existing commitment to reduce emissions in 2020 by a minimum of 5 per cent.)

  • With credit for action Australia has already taken (‘carryover’ from the Kyoto period), this 2020 target should be boosted by a further 4 per cent to 19 per cent.

  • Beyond 2020, Australia should aim for emissions reductions of between 40 and 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030.

  • A national emissions budget of 10.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions for 2013-2050, as Australia’s contribution to global efforts to hold warming to within 2 degrees. This budget should be periodically reviewed. 

For more information, click here.


Northern Territory

Inquiry into fracking

On 20 February, Peter Chandler, the NT Minister for the Environment, announced that he had recommended that the NT Environment Protection Authority (EPA) conduct an inquiry into the ‘environmental risks, actual environmental impacts and the effectiveness of mitigation measures’ in relation to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the NT.

The terms of reference and other details will be worked out with the NT EPA in due course.



State Planning Policy

A new, single State Planning Policy (SPP) for Queensland was released and came into effect on 2 December 2013. The SPP retains the same broad framework as the draft released earlier in 2013, with provisions related to the state interests in planning for:

  • liveable communities and housing,

  • economic growth,

  • environment and heritage,

  • hazards and safety, and

  • infrastructure.

The SPP applies to development assessments, and creation of planning schemes and regional plans.

A copy of the SPP is available here.



Woolnorth Dairy Farm expansion

The Tasmanian government has approved a $122 million dairy expansion at Woolnorth in north-west Tasmania.  The expansion will involve the clearing and conversion of 1,806ha of native vegetation, including habitat for the largest remaining high-density, disease-free population of Tasmanian devils.  
The proposal is the first large-scale clearing project to be approved since the Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy was amended in September 2011 to include public benefit exemptions. The Policy, designed to further Tasmania’s commitment under the Regional Forest Agreement to phase out broad-scale clearing on private land by 2015, previously restricted clearing on private property to 40ha per year.  The amended Policy allows the Forestry Minister to authorise clearing of greater than 40ha, if satisfied that the clearing is associated with a development that demonstrates ‘substantial public benefit’.

Given the potential impact of the project on listed threatened species, the expansion will also require approval from the Federal government, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation 1999 Act (Cth), before it can proceed.


Western Australia

EPA finds Port Hedland marina environmentally unacceptable due to dust

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has deemed a proposal to rezone land in the Pilbara for a public marina and commercial and residential development environmentally unacceptable due to health risks associated with exposure to PM10-sized particles. The EPA considers that a precautionary approach should be taken with respect to zoning and that a Health Risk Assessment is required before the Scheme Amendment can be considered further.

The EPA’s full statement of reasons can be found here.

The EPA’s determination is not open to appeal.  The Minister for Environment will now consult with the Minister for Planning before making any decision.


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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!

(Auckland) Young RMLA Auckland: Ethics and Advocacy

When: Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Where: Chapman Tripp, ANZ Centre, 23 Albert St, Auckland

For more information, click here.


(Melbourne) The Victorian Planning & Environmental Law Association and the Urban Development Institute of Australia present: How close is too close?

How should planning address internal amenity in higher density development?  What are, or should be, the reasonable expectations of daylight, aspect, outlook, borrowed light, apartment size and open space provision for existing and new dwellings in towers?  When does equitable development become inequitable? Should Victoria introduce mandatory standards or a code-assess approach in planning to regulate internal amenity standards? This seminar will look at the science behind daylight, the work of the Victorian Government Architects Office in addressing this issue and hear from two pre-eminent experts on their views as to how Victoria should address internal amenity in tower development. 

When: Wednesday 12 March 2014, 5.15 for 5.30pm 
Where: Treasury Theatre, Lower Level, Treasury Building, 1 McArthur Street, Melbourne
To be followed by drinks and nibbles. 

Chairs: Jane Sharp, Barrister and John Cicero, Solicitor, Best Hooper; speakers: Dr Phillip Greenup, Lighting Designer, Arup; Dr Tom Alves, Urban Designer, Office of the Victorian Government Architect; Tim Biles, Urban Planner, Message Consultants; Rob McGauran, Architect, MGS Architects.

For registration details and inquiries phone Jane on 9813 2801 or email jane@vpela.org.au.


(Melbourne) Meet the Policy Drivers

The Environment Institute of Australian and New Zealand (EIANZ) Victorian Committee invites you to join us for our fourth annual ‘Meet the Policy Drivers’ forum. 

This is a unique opportunity for environmental professionals to hear from senior Government staff regarding their Department’s current and upcoming policy direction and reform.  In this election year, this important forum will focus on current issues in environmental planning, water policy, transportation, energy and natural resource management in Victoria.

Each speaker will give an individual presentation, and then participate in a collaborative panel discussion with each other and the audience. Registration includes afternoon tea and a networking event with light refreshments and canapés.

Currently confirmed presenters include John Ginivan, Executive Director, State Planning, Building Systems and Strategy, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure; Mark Feather, Executive Director of Energy Sector Development, Department of State Development, Business and Innovation; Mike Waller, Chief Executive Officer, Office of Living Victoria.

When: Thursday 27 March 2014, 2.30pm – 7pm
Where: to be confirmed (Melbourne CBD)
Cost: EIANZ and NELA members $80; non-members $115; students $40

To register, click here. Places are limited so be sure to register early.


(Canada) 2014 Annual Canadian Bar Association Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Summit

Leading experts from across Canada will discuss:

  • emerging legal regimes and challenges to address air quality and climate change in Canada;

  • complexities associated with Canada's clean air regulatory agenda;

  • the status of international negotiations for a new climate change agreement;

  • how Canada intends to meet its 2020 GHG target and build a low-carbon economy;

  • how this burgeoning area is unfolding on international, national and local levels; and

  • regional hot topics and recent developments in environmental, energy and resources law.

When: May 29 and 30, 2014
Where: Ottawa Convention Centre, Ottawa, Canada

For more information click here.


(New Zealand) Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) Conference 2014

Through the Looking Glass (If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there)

When: Thursday, 25 September 2014
Where: The Dunedin Centre

For more information, click here


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Other events

(Sydney) Mahla Pearlman Oration 2014

The Law Council of Australia and the Environment and Planning Law Association (NSW) Inc invite you to register to attend this year’s Mahla Pearlman Oration and presentation of the award for the Australian Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year 2014.

The Oration is named in recognition of the former Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW, and former President of the Law Council of Australia, the late Mahla Pearlman AO.

This year’s Oration will be delivered by Professor Rob Fowler, Adjunct Professor, School of Law, University of South Australia. 

The Oration will be chaired by the Hon Justice Dennis Cowdroy OAM, of the Federal Court of Australia and formerly of the Land and Environment Court of NSW.

When: 5pm to 7pm, Thursday 6 March 2014 
Where:  Federal Court 21A of the Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney 
Cost: Free

For further information please contact the Law Council Secretariat, telephone (02) 6246 3722 or email lps@lawcouncil.asn.au.


(Adelaide) Womadelaide – The Planet Talks: When Polly met Peter & Tim

Find out what happens when one of the world’s most visionary thinkers in the area of law and environmental action - Polly Higgins - meets Australia's leading environmental thinker, writer and activist Tim Flannery and former government minister, ACF president and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett for a frank conversation about why and how the law and legislation must tackle climate change.

When: 5pm, Sunday 9 March 2014
Where: Botanic Park, Adelaide, South Australia

For more information and to book tickets, click here.


(Adelaide) Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) Environment Series: Earth is our business

CEDA and the University of Adelaide invite you to engage in a critical discussion around enviromental law, in particular the notion of holding to account those who destroy the environment.
Polly Higgins describes herself as a 'lawyer for the earth' and is in Adelaide as part of Womadelaide.  For years now, her love of the environment and the law has set her on a path working towards an international law of ecocide, to hold those responsible for the destruction of the world's eco-systems to account. Polly has submitted a second proposal to the United Nations: the crime of ecocide. She argues that ecocide is the 5th crime against peace, yet to be recognised alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

Polly will be joined by Professor Ian Lowe Emeritus Professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, an Adjunct Professor at two Australian universities and the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Allan Holmes, Chief Executive of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Heritage.

When: 3 for 3.15pm to 5pm, Tuesday 11 March 2014
Where: Lyrics Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, South Australia

For more information and to register, click here.


(Australia – 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.


(Australia – various locations) Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) events

AELA’s mission is to promote the understanding and practical implementation of earth jurisprudence and ‘wild law’ in Australia.  Earth jurisprudence is a new legal theory and growing social movement.  It 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. To learn more, join us at one of our upcoming events:

  • “Do we need an international law of ecocide?” – public lectures and workshops with UK barrister and acclaimed author, Polly Higgins

    • Brisbane – Wednesday, 12 March 2014, 6.15pm for 6.30 pm start (FREE – bookings essential)

    • Sydney – Thursday, 13 March 2014, 6.15pm for 6.30 pm start (FREE – bookings essential)

  • 1 Day Environmental Justice Symposium – Friday, 4 April 2014 – hosted by AELA and Griffith University’s Urban Research Program, at Griffith University’s EcoCentre in Brisbane

  • “Exploring Intersections and Differences between Animal Law, Environmental Law and Earth Jurisprudence” - joint half day seminars hosted by AELA and Voiceless:

  • Sydney – Friday, 2 May 2014 – to be held at Sydney University

  • Perth – Friday, 8 May 2014 – to be held at Murdoch University

  • Brisbane – Monday 12 May 2014 – to be held at Griffith University

  • Ecospirituality seminars – Brisbane and Perth – July 2014 (more details soon)

For more information about each event, or to RSVP, click here.


(Canberra) Transnational Environmental Crime Project: Black trade, criminal networks and enforcement responses

The Transnational Environmental Crime (TEC) project at ANU, funded by the Australian Research Council and the Australian Government's Department of the Environment (DoE) under the ARC Linkage Scheme, is nearing its three-year milestone. This conference is being held to give members of the research team the opportunity to report their research findings against the three project themes:

  • understanding the ways in which environmental commodities that are either sourced illegally or destined for illegal markets are traded,

  • understanding the organisational and asset structures of criminal networks involved in TEC, and 

  • understanding the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of policy and operational law enforcement responses.

When: 9am – 5pm, 14 March 2014
Where:  School of International Political and Strategic Studies, Australian National University, Acton, ACT
Cost: FREE

For more information and to register, click here.


(Melbourne) EDO Victoria Public Law CPD: CPD for good

Getting your CPD points can also help to make the world a better place.

The Environment Defenders Office has arranged for some of Victoria's top practitioners and experts to brief you on the most recent developments in public law - with all the fees going to support the work of the EDO.

When: 9am – 1pm, Monday 17 March 2014
Where: DLA Piper, 140 William Street, Melbourne, Victoria

For more information and to register, click here.


(Canberra) Being an effective voice for the environment

The Conservation Council ACT Region is holding a symposium for people involved in an environment group or community group and for students, campaigners and government employees who work in the environment and sustainability sector. The symposium is a full day event which will teach participants how to communicate their message effectively.

When: 9am – 5pm, 29 March 2014
Where: ANU Commons Function Centre, Rimmer St, Canberra.

For more information and register, click here.


(Adelaide) Planning with Communities: Facilitation and Conflict Resolution

This nationally accredited training, run by Social and Environmental Planning Partnerships, teaches high-level facilitation and conflict resolution skills that are transferable to any workplace, including team management. If you work with communities to develop sustainable plans and policies in natural resource management or if you lead a team, you will find this comprehensive three-day course invaluable. You can also choose to be assessed for two units towards a Diploma of Government.

When: 1 – 3 April 2014
Where: Upstairs Conference Room, The Australian Education Union, 163 Greenhill Road, Parkside, South Australia

For more information or to register, click here.


(Gold Coast) Queensland Environmental Law Association (QELA) 2014 Conference
A Game of Tomes

QELA's 2014 conference is just three months away and registrations are now being taken.

The program will cover eight sessions over three days and includes the usual welcome BBQ on Wednesday evening (sponsored by Holding Redlich) and the Groundwork Plus cocktail dinner on Thursday evening. The conference program includes topics such as the Queensland, planning system, planning schemes, linear infrastructure, water resources, environment and heritage, managing growth and infrastructure.

When: 28 – 30 May 2014
Where: Sheraton Gold Coast Resort and Spa

Detailed conference information, the program and registration forms are available on QELA's website. For more information please call QELA's office on (07) 3832 4865 or email info@qela.com.au.


(Sydney) 2014 Government Sustainability Conference

Call for speakers now open

The 2014 Government Sustainability Conference will again provide delegates from local, state and federal government and the wider public sector with comprehensive analysis and advice on how to address crucial environment issues and embed sustainability within their organisations.
Presentation topics will include:

  • The Future of Carbon Regulation and how government organisations should be responding: an analysis of the current carbon regulatory landscape for local government and public sector authorities

  • Effective sustainability strategies for government organisations

  • Climate adaptation strategies for government organisations and their communities

  • Public sector sustainability reporting

  • Community engagement on sustainability issues

  • Sustainable resource management: waste, water, energy

When: 12 and 13 August 2014
Where: Doltone House, Sydney

For more information about the event and to register, click here.


(Sydney) IUCN World Parks Congress 2014

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 is a landmark global forum on protected areas. The Congress will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. Building on the theme "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions", it will present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda.

When: 12 – 19 November 2014
Where: Sydney, Australia

Registration for this event is now open. For more information, and to register, click here.


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Opportunities for comment



Senate inquiry into Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area wind back

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications are conducting an inquiry into the Federal Government's proposal to reduce the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). The inquiry will review the natural world heritage values of the TWWHA’s minor boundary extension, the extent and description of any degraded forest within the boundaries and the Government’s process for re-evaluating the value of the area.

Submissions to the inquiry must be made by 7 March 2014

For more information, and to make a submission, click here.


House Environment Committee to examine ‘green tape’

The House of Representatives Environment Committee will conduct an inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, ‘green tape’, and one stop shops for environmental assessments and approvals.

The terms of reference provide for the committee to inquire into and report on the impact of ‘green tape’ and issues relating to environmental regulation and deregulation. The inquiry will have particular regard to:

  • jurisdictional arrangements, regulatory requirements and the potential for deregulation;

  • the balance between regulatory burdens and environmental benefits;

  • areas for improved efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework; and

  • legislation governing environmental regulation, and the potential for deregulation.

The committee will accept submissions addressing one or more of the terms of reference until Friday, 11 April 2014.

For more information and to make a submission, click here.


Inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, 'green tape', and one stop shops

The Australian Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment will conduct an inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, ‘green tape’, and one stop shops for environmental assessments and approvals. The inquiry will have particular regard to:

  • jurisdictional arrangements, regulatory requirements and the potential for deregulation,

  • the balance between regulatory burdens and environmental benefits,

  • areas for improved efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework, and

  • legislation governing environmental regulation, and the potential for deregulation.

Submissions are invited until Friday 11 April 2014.

For more information and to make a submission, click here.


New South Wales

Urban Water Regulation in NSW – Position Paper

The NSW Government has released a position paper presenting the preferred approach to reform key elements of urban water regulation in NSW. The Government invites stakeholders to review the position paper and provide a written response. Feedback will be used to inform the finalisation of amendments to the Water Industry Competition Act 2006

Submissions in response to the position paper are due by Friday 28 March 2014.

For more information and to make a submission, click here.


Marine estate community survey

The NSW Government has commissioned a private company to survey community views about the NSW marine estate and its future management. The NSW marine estate includes marine waters, the coast and estuaries, including the NSW marine parks, mangrove systems, islands, wetlands and lakes that are intermittently connected to the sea and rivers under a detectable tidal influence.
The survey will target stakeholder and focus groups, as well as randomised samples of NSW community residents for their views. Community members will be contacted directly by the company to complete the survey questionnaire.

Other members of the public may submit their views of future management of the marine estate by email to contact.us@marine.nsw.gov.au. These views will not be included in the survey results, however, they may inform new marine estate projects.

For more information, click here.


Consultation on The Remake Of The Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals

The NSW Government is calling for feedback on proposed changes to the environmental regulatory framework for forestry operations conducted on public land in coastal NSW.

The proposed changes apply to Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) for the Eden, Southern, Lower North East and Upper North East (coastal) regions of NSW. The IFOA remake is being undertaken jointly by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) and Department of Primary Industries – NSW Fisheries (DPI).

The objectives of the IFOA remake are to improve the IFOAs’ clarity and enforceability and reduce the costs associated with implementation and compliance.

The Government has released a discussion paper on the proposed changes for consultation.
Submissions are invited until Sunday 6 April 2014.

For more information and to make a submission, click here.



Environmental Offsets Bill 2014

This Bill was introduced on 13 February 2014 and is intended to replace a number of existing offset policies under various legislative regimes through the introduction of a new single environmental offsets policy, which will operate in conjunction with other legislation.

The Bill is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee, which invites submissions on the Bill until 24 March 2014.

For more information and to make a submission, click here.


(Sydney) Lecturer / Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor in Environmental Law
Two full-time continuing positions (remuneration package: $107K - $174K pa, including leave loading and up to 17% super) are available at the progressive and globally focused Sydney Law School.

Applications close 6 April 2014; for more information and to apply, click here.



University of Tasmania intensive: Current Issues in Environmental Law and Policy

The University of Tasmania will once again be holding its intensive course, Current Issues in Environmental Law and Policy, this winter.

This course explores the legal and policy context in which some of Australia's most challenging environmental controversies arise. It introduces students to the framework for national and international environmental regulation using a range of topical issues and case studies. These include the Gunns pulp mill dispute, coal seam gas expansion, international climate change negotiations, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and water rights in a drying world.

The course runs from 23 June to 13 July and is open to anyone with an interest in environmental law and policy.

For more information, click here.


(New York) Summer International Environmental Law Institute

Pace University’s law school, a top-ranked environmental law school located in New York, has just established its Summer International Environmental Law Institute. The Institute is now welcoming registrations from law students, lawyers, and other professionals from around the world who might be interested in attending environmental law classes in New York City in June and July 2014.

For more information, click here.



New South Wales Local Land Services Board Member elections

Voting for the inaugural Local Land Services board members will close at 5pm on Wednesday 12 March 2014.

For more information, click here.


Opportunity to speak at a Canadian Bar Association conference

Would you like to speak at a Canadian Bar Association conference in a session on ‘Emissions Still Rising: Climate Change Performance Worldwide’ at 4pm on 30 May 2014 in Ottawa, Canada? The Canadian Bar Association’s Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Committee has invited a NELA representative to speak at their annual Law Summit about developments in Australia. You’ll need to pay your own expenses but registration fee is waived.

If you’re interested please contact Amanda Cornwall at amandacornwall@bigpond.com by 15 March 2014.


Nominations now open for United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) World Environment Day Awards 2014

These national awards recognise those from all Australian sectors who display innovation and dedication in their work to protect, manage or restore the environment. This year, the World Environment Day Awards will showcase some of the most important and exciting environmental projects in Australia. The Awards encourage environmental leadership, and promote awareness of environmental issues on a global scale.

Nominations close at 5pm, Thursday 17 April 2014.

For more information about the awards, including categories, and how to nominate, click here.


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 organization are interested in learning more, visit http://www.saltusforum.org/ or email Steve Venton at steve.venton@saltusforum.org.


Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) seeks expert nominations

IPBES is currently seeking nominations of experts for the implementation of its first work program for 2014-2018, which aims at addressing the capacity and knowledge needs, providing sub-regional to global assessments on the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and assessing knowledge related to various issues including threats, drivers and methods. 
Experts are sought to participate in the followingtask forces and expert groups:

  • Task force on capacity building;

  • Task force on indigenous and local knowledge systems;

  • Task force on knowledge and data;

  • Expert group on the production and integration of assessments from and across all levels;

  • Assessment on pollination and pollinators associated with food production;

  • Methodological assessment on scenario analysis and modeling;

  • The scoping of a methodological assessment on the conceptualization of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people;

  • Expert group on policy support tools and methodologies.

A call for nominations for experts to contribute to other work programme deliverables – including for scoping and authoring regional and sub-regional assessments, and assessments relating to land degradation and restoration, invasive alien species, and sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity - will be circulated towards the end of March 2014, with a deadline for nominations in June 2014.

For additional information about the programs and participation in them, please email Dr Thomas Brooks, Head of the IUCN Science and Knowledge Unit.



The latest edition of EDO NSW’s national environmental law journal, IMPACT!, is now available for download.

This edition features the following articles:

  • Five big challenges for the NSW planning reforms

  • OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises: a potential forum for environmental disputes

  • Fullerton Cove case “epitomises” public interest litigation

  • On the value of law for the planet

  • Recent developments in the Tarkine evidence the need for a landscape scale approach to resource management 

The free, full-text download is available here.


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Thanks to this month's contributors