Environment—Australia—Q&A guide
Environment—Australia—Q&A guide

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environment—Australia—Q&A guide
  • 1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to the environment?
  • 2. Is there a system of integrated control of pollution?
  • 3. What are the main characteristics of the rules applicable to soil pollution?
  • 4. What types of waste are regulated and how?
  • 5. What are the main features of the rules governing air emissions?
  • 6. How are fresh water and seawater, and their associated land, protected?
  • 7. What are the main features of the rules protecting natural spaces and landscapes?
  • 8. What are the main features of the rules protecting flora and fauna species?
  • 9. What are the main features of the rules governing noise, odours and vibrations?
  • More...

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to environment in Australia published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: July 2020).

Authors: Oxby Legal—William Oxby

1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to the environment?

Australia is a federation of six states with two mainland territories. They are, in no order, New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

The Australian Constitution establishes Australia’s federation and divides the power to make laws between the Commonwealth and the states. Each level has a role in environmental regulation. This means that for a single project or development, a proponent may have to seek approvals from all three levels of government: the Commonwealth government department, the state authority and the relevant local government.

The Constitution does not contain an express power permitting the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to environment protection. Under the division of power, it is the states that have the primary responsibility for making these laws. Under section 109 of the Constitution, if any inconsistency arises between a law of the Commonwealth and a law of a state, the law of the Commonwealth prevails, and the state law is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.

The Commonwealth’s power to make laws with respect to the

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