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Environmental Law and Development: Creating the Right Environment for Success

As a developer or builder, it is important to be aware of environmental law and how it affects your work. By creating development projects in accordance with environmental regulations, you can help ensure success for both your project and the environment.

Read on to know more about environmental laws and how they work in Australia.

Definition of Environment According to Law

According to Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 under section 528, environment is:

  • Ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities
  • Natural and physical resources
  • Qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas
  • Heritage values of places
  • Social, economic and cultural aspects of a thing.

What Is Environmental Law?

Environmental law is a broad and constantly evolving area of the law that deals with the protection of the environment. The meaning and scope of environmental law can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but it typically encompasses a wide range of legal issues, including air and water pollution, waste management, environmental impact assessments and the conservation of natural resources.

In recent years, environmental law has become an increasingly important tool in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The ultimate goal of this law is to protect the environment and human health from the harmful effects of projects or other activities, as well as promote development in a sustainable way. To this end, environmental law sets forth a series of guidelines and principles that businesses and individuals are required to follow. In some cases, it also requires penalties or other legal consequences in cases of non-compliance.

Why Is Environmental Law Important?

Environmental law is a set of statutes, regulations and treaties intended to protect the natural environment from suffering negative impacts of development and other projects. It is also intended to prevent pollution and ensure that environmental impact assessments are carried out before development projects are approved. 

This law is important for a number of reasons:

  • Helps protect the environment from degradation
  • Checks requirements and plans before giving an approval for building or other activities
  • Promotes sustainable development
  • Aids in making sure that environmental quality standards are met
  • Helps resolve environmental disputes

What Are the Main Environmental Laws in Australia?

When it comes to environmental law and development, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The needs of each country or region are unique, and the solutions must be tailored to fit those specific needs.

Australia has a number of regulations that are designed to protect the country’s unique natural heritage and sustainability. Here are the most important ones:

1. Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a framework for the protection of the environment and the conservation of biodiversity.

Its main purpose is to protect the environment, especially matters of national environmental significance. This law triggers environmental impact assessments for actions that may have a significant impact on world heritage areas, national parks, migratory animals, listed threatened species and ecological communities, and more.

According to the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act aims to protect the following:

  • Commonwealth marine areas
  • Listed threatened species and ecological communities
  • Migratory species protected under international agreements
  • National heritage places
  • Nuclear actions (including uranium mines)
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • Wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites)
  • World heritage properties.

2. Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

Environmental planning and assessment is the process of approving land uses and development projects that are consistent with the purposes of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The Act provides for the protection of the environment, including air and water quality, noise, landscapes, vegetation and wildlife. 

This policy ensures that these objectives are met by assessing the impacts of proposed developments and putting in place controls to minimise those impacts. It is enforced by the DPE stands for the Department of Planning and Environment (formerly called the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment or DPIE).

3. National Environmental Protection Council Act

Enacted in 1970, this was created for the purpose of establishing a National Environmental Protection Council, whose function is to provide continuing leadership and coordination of federal efforts to protect and enhance the quality of the environment. To achieve this goal, this government body coordinates environmental protection activities among various federal departments and agencies.

Environmental laws are designed to promote sustainable development, as well as guarantee the protection of animals and humans from air, land and water pollution. With the right policies and regulations in place, businesses and industries can thrive while also protecting the planet.

However, these laws can be complex, which is why if you need help with compliance or penalties, it would be best if you seek help from lawyers who are experts in this field.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

Need help in complying or resolving disputes related to environmental law? 

Madison Marcus can help you smoothen the process. We are an award-winning law firm that can offer legal assistance in planning, environment and government acts, dispute resolution, construction, land acquisition and residential applications. Using a whole-project approach, we find efficient and effective solutions at any stage of your project to ensure that your goal can be achieved.

For all enquiries or to book a free 15-minute consultation, contact us today.


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