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How Environmental Rights Are Recognised

Most businesses in Australia are now aware of the importance of following environmental law. This is because any development project may have significant consequences for the environment. 

With this, the State and Commonwealth legislation demands that these effects be appropriately investigated before development is authorised and that if significant impacts can’t be avoided, they are adequately monitored and compensated.

An established legal obligation will protect not only the environment but also the company’s reputation. Fortunately, there are now many environmental law firms that can advise companies on how to stay within the law.

Madison Marcus specialises in environmental law. Our experts can help to ensure that businesses are adhering to these laws.

What Are Environmental Rights?

In Australia, the government protects the environment through a range of environmental laws and policies at the federal, state and local levels. Any environmental law in Australia protects human health and the environment from pollution and waste. 

However, there is an increasing recognition that environmental protection measures should also recognise and protect the rights of nature. This means that not only should the environment be protected from harm but also that it should be allowed to flourish and thrive.

There are several ways in which environmental rights are properly implemented. For example, some states have introduced legislation that recognises the rights of nature, whilst others have established environmental courts or tribunals.

In addition, the Australian Commonwealth Government has established many environmental laws and policies that recognise and protect the environment, including the  Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999  (Cth) (EPBC Act).

The EPBC Act also establishes the independent statutory authority known as the  Environmental Protection Authority  (EPA), which is responsible for administering the Act.

What Are the Three Environmental Rights in Australia?

The three environmental rights in Australia are the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to live in a world with a stable climate and the right to access justice on environmental matters.

The rights to live in a healthy environment, access to nutritious food and protection from hazardous materials are all outlined under the EPBC Act. This legislation, along with policies and the EPA recognises these rights. Australia’s primary legislation providing environmental protection is the EPBC Act.

1. The Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment

All Australians have the right to live in an environment that is free from pollution and contamination, and that can support human health and well-being. Several environmental legislation, including the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994 (Cth), the EPBC Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and the Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure, is in effect to guarantee that the environment is protected.

2. The Right to Live in a World With a Stable Climate

All Australians have the right to live in a world with a stable climate. This right is recognised in the  Climate Change Act 2017 (Cth), which requires the Australian government to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Australia adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Climate Change Act 2017 also requires the government to develop and implement a national strategy to reduce emissions, including through the development of emissions reduction targets. Furthermore, the Act establishes the  Climate Change Authority, an independent statutory authority that provides expert advice on climate change to the government and the community.

3. The Right to Access Justice on Environmental Matters

All Australians have the right to access justice on environmental matters. The Federal Court of Australia has jurisdiction over environmental matters, and many specialist environmental law firms can provide advice and representation.

EPA is the primary statutory authority responsible for administering the  Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999  (Cth)  (EPBC Act). The EPA also has a role in providing advice to the government on environmental policy and law reform and in educating the community about environmental issues.

How Are Environmental Rights Protected in Australia?

Environmental rights are protected in several ways through legislation, policy and the independent statutory authority known as the EPA.

The  EPBC Act establishes a national framework for the protection of environmental matters of national importance, including threatened species, ecological communities, world heritage properties, national heritage places, Ramsar wetlands of international importance and environmental impact assessments. The Act also establishes the EPA, which is responsible for administering the Act and providing advice to the government on environmental policy and law reform.

In addition to legislation, environmental rights are also protected through environmental policy. The  National Environmental Policy sets out the Australian government’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development. The policy includes a commitment to protect environmental values, promote sustainable development and ensure that all Australians have access to information about environmental issues.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

Do you need help with matters related to environmental law?

Madison Marcus is a leading environmental law firm with a team of experienced environmental lawyers who can provide advice and representation on environmental law matters. Our firm is a master of environmental law that can tackle a wide range of environmental law issues, such as climate change, environmental impact assessments, planning and development, pollution and waste and water.

  • We will help you with the environmental assessment and approval processes for your development, as well as give expert advice on how to comply.
  • We will help you avoid problems and assist you with approval compliance concerns, such as responding to regulatory investigations.
  • We can assess environmental documentation.
  • We can defend you in court and advise or represent you in criminal cases filed as a result of an environmental infraction.

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


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