All Articles

Practical guidance for writing and interpreting conditions of approval for environmental regulators in Queensland


Dr Chris McGrath recently spoke to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection about environmental regulators in Queensland, who must write conditions prior to granting an approval and investigators who must interpret conditions after approval is granted, to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

His practical guidance overview covers four main areas:

  • What does an application apply to do and what does approval of it include?
  • Initial acceptance or rejection of an application.
  • Assessing an application and writing conditions.
  • Interpreting conditions after approval is granted to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

He has kindly supplied his summary for all AELERT members to view.



Dr Chris McGrath is a barrister and a Senior Lecturer (Environmental Regulation) at the University of Queensland. He holds a BSc, LLB (Hons), LLM and PhD. He teaches Environmental Litigation at the Australian National University. Before being called to the Bar, he worked as an enforcement officer for the then Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.


SYDNEY: Free seminar Measuring Regulatory Performance


Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) are running a free seminar on measuring regulatory performance.

If defining and measuring regulatory performance were easy, there wouldn’t be so many frameworks crowding the space! Defining our regulatory outcomes when we are only one part of the puzzle, attaching performance measures to the outcomes, ensuring that we prioritise and align our activities so they’ll deliver the desired outcomes and telling our performance story to our authorising environment and the broader community are all complex and contingent tasks. And we rarely have the opportunity to start with a clean slate, so travelling from where we are to where we want to be inevitably brings its own challenges.

ANZSOG’s Evaluation Hub is working with the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy to develop a regulatory performance framework, with lessons to be drawn and learned for every regulator.

Please join Dr George Argyrous from UNSW/ANZSOG and Adam Carlon from Environment and Energy for a thought provoking and interactive engagement with measuring regulatory performance.       

DATE:                    Monday 5 June 2017
TIME:                    4.00-5.00pm (coffee and networking from 3.30pm)
VENUE:                Rooms T5 and T6, UNSW City Campus, Level 7, 1 O’Connell Street



Have your say on the future of environmental law


The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) is calling for comment on its recently released recommendations for a new general 'duty of care' and an Environment Future Fund.

APEEL is comprised of experts with experience in environmental law, research, practice and design and aims to set out a vision for environmental laws that ensure Australia has a healthy, functioning and resilient environment to benefit people for generations to come.

The panel of experts on environmental legislation, established in 2014 by an alliance of environment groups, has this month unveiled wide-ranging recommendations for reform of federal and state laws.

They have drafted eight Technical Papers discussing key issues and reform proposals for Australia’s environmental laws.

These eight Technical Papers deal with:

1. The foundations for environmental law.
2. Environmental governance.
3. Terrestrial biodiversity conservation and natural resources management.
4. Marine and coastal issues.
5. Climate law. 6. Energy regulation.
7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance.
8. Democracy and the environment.

These Technical Papers constitute a substantial volume of work and involve complex legal concepts. Together they present fifty-seven specific recommendations contained in an Overview Paper.

The recommendations include the establishment of a Commonwealth Environmental Investment Commission that would identify ways to generate private and public sector contributions to a new Environment Future Fund.

The panel also recommends the introduction of a general duty to restore and rehabilitate harmed environments and another that would require all companies to improve their environmental performance.

The tax system should also be revamped to provide stronger incentives for environmentally responsible practices, it says.

The recommendations are open for comment until June 2, after which APEEL aims to produce a final proposal on directions for reform, by the middle of 2017.  

National regulation of PFAS a step closer


Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says a national approach to the environmental regulation of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) is a step closer after the PFAS Summit held in Melbourne this month.  

EPA Executive Director of Knowledge Standards and Assessment, Tim Eaton said the summit demonstrated positive collaboration between Australian environmental regulators to identify a long-term plan for the assessment, containment and remediation of PFAS. 

“Scientists, engineers, managers and policy and regulatory advisors discussed current environmental standards and the assessment and treatment of sites contaminated with PFAS, as well as the safe disposal of PFAS-impacted wastes,” Mr Eaton said.  

“PFAS are a challenge for all environmental regulators and best dealt with together,” he said.  

“The precautionary principle and the values of intergenerational equity were key discussion topics for managing these chemicals into the future.”  

Mr Eaton said the summit resulted in the development of key aspects of a national management plan for the environmental regulation of PFAS.  

EPA coordinated the summit on behalf of the Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy. 

“HEPA will now consider the best way to turn what the summit achieved into a national approach to the environmental regulation of PFAS,” Mr Eaton said.   

A video of the summit’s keynote speeches is available on EPA Victoria’s website.


Source: EPA VIC



SA EVENT: Central Eyre Iron Project Approval - The long and winding (iron) road


Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) South Australian Division invites you to attend an evening with Steve Green, Environmental Manager at Iron Road and Executive Director - Assessments and Approvals at environmental consultancy JBS&G.

With the Iron Road's Central Eyre Iron Project on the verge of obtaining final government approval, Steve will discuss the project's path to approval, and reflect on the importance of early impact assessment in shaping the project and achieving better outcomes. 

Click here to view the event flyer

When: Thursday 20 April 2017

Time: 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start

The Ambar Lounge Ambassadors Hotel Basement
107 King William Street, Adelaide

Cost: $10 - EIANZ members, $30 non-members

Contact: EIANZ Central Office on or 03 8593 4140

Keeping your animals safe in an emergency


Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the agency responsible for biosecurity emergency preparedness in South Australia, has developed an Animals in Emergencies framework, in liaison with other government agencies and organisations including the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League and Primary Producers SA.

It is a guide on the key issues to be considered when planning for the welfare of small and large animals in the event of an emergency.

Good animal management includes ensuring the welfare of all animals before, during and after emergencies.

Events such as fire, storms and flooding can result in separation between animals and their owners, injury or death. Evidence however indicates animal owners are failing to plan ahead for such situations.

"In 2015 alone, major rural fires in South Australia resulted in over 72 000 known animal deaths. Such losses, along with injuries, impacts on people’s ability to recover from such events with farmers and livestock owners often facing economic hardship." said PIRSA Executive Director Will Zacharin.

"Understanding what you need to put in place, before, during and after emergencies will ensure both you and your animals are as safe as possible.

For further information on the Animals in Emergencies framework visit

Download the Framework here.


PODCAST: The importance of proving commercial benefit to increase penalties


Sentences for environmental offences in Queensland have historically been generally very low in comparison to the high commercial benefits that may be obtained through breaches of planning and environmental laws.

This podcast discusses real decisions on sentencing of environmental offences.  You will hear how important it is to obtain evidence of commercial benefit while undertaking an investigation to prove an offence and how this evidence is key when arguing that the penalty must remove the benefit.


Download the Handout

Download the Slides


Dr Chris McGrath is a barrister and a Senior Lecturer (Environmental Regulation) at the University of Queensland. He holds a BSc, LLB (Hons), LLM and PhD. He teaches Environmental Litigation at the Australian National University. Before being called to the Bar, he worked as an enforcement officer for the then Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.

HEPA Regulators PFAS Summit


Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), on behalf of the Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, is hosting a summit of international environment experts and regulators on PFAS.

The summit, from 4–5 April 2017 in Melbourne, will focus on the environmental regulation of PFAS based on current human health reference values for PFAS, and will make a significant contribution to the development of a PFAS national management plan.  

It is an opportunity for environment and human health regulators to draw on their knowledge and experience to discuss the regulation of PFAS.

The summit will also act as:

  • a platform for exchange of ideas about the regulation of PFAS,
  • a forum to fast-track the development of a nationally consistent
    approach to the environmental regulation of PFAS,
  • an opportunity to test options to be included in a draft PFAS national management plan.

Options for stakeholder consultation on the draft PFAS national management plan will be considered by Australian environmental regulators following the summit.

Keynote speakers

Éva Fetter (German Environment Agency – Umweltbundesamt)Dr Éva Fetter – German Environment Agency

Éva Fetter is a scientific officer at the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA), which is the main environment agency in Germany, subordinated to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

Ms Fetter supports the Section of Chemicals engaged in activities under the European chemicals regulation (REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals – EC1907/2006). She has a special focus on assessing chemicals with potential endocrine disrupting properties, and development and enforcement of risk management strategies concerning PFAS.

Hilary Thornton (US EPA)Hilary Thornton – US Environmental Protection Agency

Hilary Thornton has managed the cleanup of Superfund sites as a remedial project manager for the US Environmental Protection Agency since 1997.

He is a former co-chair of the EPA’s Engineering Forum and a current co-chair of the National Association of Remedial Project Managers (NARPM), as well as co-lead of the Engineering Forum Greener Cleanup Subcommittee. He chaired the Session on Characterization and Mitigation of PFASs (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) at the March 2016 Emerging Contaminants Summit in Westminster, Colorado.

Mr Thornton presented a talk entitled, ‘Emerging contaminants: per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)’ to the Georgia Environmental Conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia on 25 August 2016. He presented an expanded version of that talk to the EPA Engineering Forum on 14 September 2016.

He currently leads a workgroup of the EPA’s Engineering Forum in developing an issue paper on PFAS.  

Watch the keynote speeches

Members of the community, industry or business with an interest in PFAS can watch a live stream of the summit’s keynote speeches on this page on 4 April 2017 from 9.00am to 12.30pm (AEST).


The keynote speeches will be delivered by international experts who will speak about the regulatory response to the challenges posed by PFAS in their countries.

Attend in person

A limited number of places are available for people with an interest in PFAS to watch the keynote speeches in person on 4 April 2017 from 9am – 12.30pm at Melbourne Museum.

If you would like to attend in person you can express your interest via email to by Friday, 24 March 2017.

The video will also be available for viewing on this page after 12.30 pm (AEST) on 4 April.

Media Release: Tasmanian EPA considers proposal for a quarry on Cleveland at Ouse


The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposed quarry on the Cleveland property, near Ouse in the Central Highlands municipality.  

The quarry proposal by Cleveland Pastoral Estate Pty Ltd involves the production of up to 10,000 cubic metres of gravel per year near Chapmans Hill on the Cleveland property, 9 km north-west of Ouse.  

The EPA Director, Mr Wes Ford, made the determination under delegation from the EPA Board, concluding the proposed quarry could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The EPA requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Central Highlands Council.  

“Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, and standard conditions relating to sediment control, weed management and dust were included,” said Mr Ford.  

No representations were received in relation to the permit application, which was referred to the Board in December 2016. Public consultation was open for a 14 day period commencing 21 January 2017.  

The proposal was considered by the Director in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA).  

The functions of the EPA are to administer and enforce the provisions of EMPCA, and in particular to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania, and to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives.  

The Director undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of EMPCA.

The Director’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to Central Highlands Council, for review of planning issues prior to making a decision as to whether a permit is to be granted.  

The decision by the EPA Director can be viewed on the EPA website at   

For more information please contact:  
EPA Communications Coordinator
(P) 03 61 65 4420 (M) 0408 478897

PODCAST: U.S. Environmental Enforcement in Transition


Professor Glicksman recently visited the SA EPA to discuss U.S. Environmental Enforcement in Transition and you can listen to the podcast here. Available to AELERT members only.


President Abraham Lincoln once said that "Laws without enforcement are only good advice."  That truism certainly applies to environmental law.  Scholars and policymakers for years have debated the best ways to improve environmental compliance, including, but not limited to maximising the impact of government enforcement.   

The transition from President Obama to President Trump raises that question anew.  Under the Obama Administration, the federal Environmental Protection Agency embarked on a program called "Next Generation Compliance," which sought to supplement traditional enforcement with the use of innovative technologies to bolster compliance in the face of declining enforcement resources. 

The impact of this Next Gen effort is unclear, as well as its fate under the Trump Administration.  In addition, the Trump Administration is expected to scale back federal participation in all aspects of environmental law.  That approach will make both state and private enforcement more important than ever.   

This presentation reviews these aspects of the voluble landscape of environmental enforcement in the U.S.  

Further information about Professor Glicksman is available at