Law Reform

We actively engage in environmental policy and law reform in NSW and Australia

View our recent submissions

Our policy and law reform work reflects our status as an independent, specialist legal centre. We put forward policy proposals suggesting ways that the law can be improved in NSW and Australia.

Our policy proposals may be in the form of:

  • submissions to Governments or parliamentary inquiries
  • proactive reports and consultancy projects
  • policy advice to Governments as a member of expert panels or stakeholder reference groups.

For national environmental matters, we work with our colleagues in EDOs of Australia and with national groups, to improve the law and protect the environment.

Review our submissions by topic using the right hand menu or use the search feature below to find a document of interest.

You can see current opportunities for law reform at Have Your Say.

Major review of biodiversity laws by NSW Government

The NSW Government has released a new biodiversity conservation law and policy package that's a serious retrograde step as it involves removing many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections. Read more on our feature page.

Recent Submissions

Koala SEPP Review (State Environmental Planning Policy 44 – Koala Habitat Protection) – EDO NSW submission

January 2017 - Download PDF

See also: Attachment A – EDO NSW’s 2010 submission on the Koala SEPP

December 2010 - Download PDF

The Koala SEPP was introduced in 1995 to conserve and manage koala habitat against local development impacts. This submission comments on NSW Government proposals to amend the SEPP’s:

  • Aims and Definitions
  • Application to listed tree species and Local Council areas
  • Development Assessment processes and Guidelines
  • Plan-making provisions (proposed Local Planning Directions), and
  • Local Environmental Study requirements.

The submission also lists 7 further issues that the Koala SEPP review should address:

  • Relationship between Koala SEPP and future NSW koala strategy
  • Further information and analysis of the SEPP’s effectiveness
  • Expanding the scope of development covered by the SEPP (not just council approvals)
  • Cumulative impacts and the ‘1 hectare limit’ on assessable projects
  • Koala SEPP must be climate change ready
  • Monitoring, auditing and reporting, and
  • Statutory review periods.

Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper – EDO NSW submission

January 2017 - Download PDF

The NSW Government released a Consultation Paper – Clean Air for NSW in 2016. Drawing on the extensive legal and technical analysis and advice we have undertaken for our community clients on air quality over many years, this latest submission makes recommendations for improving air quality in relation to specific actions and timeframes, integrating air quality into planning decisions, and monitoring and measuring air pollution.

Draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy – EDO NSW submission

January 2017 – Download PDF

This submission builds on our previous submissions and analyses of coastal management reform in NSW. The submission focuses on the impacts of expanded urban development in and near sensitive coastal environments. Our main recommendation is that the new coastal SEPP explicitly confirm that exempt and code-complying development is not permitted in or adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas.

Previous work on coastal management reforms include:

Submission on the Review of the load-based licensing scheme – EDO NSW submission

January 2017 – Download PDF

This is a technical submission structured around the questions asked in the Issues Paper. In our submission, we focus on the role of an effective load-based licensing scheme, pollutants covered by the scheme, and ensuring fees for the scheme are set in a way that will drive pollution reduction.

We also note that there are currently few policies or programs in NSW that adequately regulate cumulative impacts, and many industrial discharges are permitted at levels that are known to be above safe levels for human or environmental health. As a result, the NSW pollution management system, including the load-based licensing scheme, still falls significantly short of ensuring appropriate environmental protection. This review provides an opportunity to address some of these concerns.

NSW Government Climate Change Fund – Draft Strategic Plan – EDO NSW submission

December 2016 – Download PDF

The NSW Government invited EDO NSW to comment on the Draft Strategic Plan. Our submission makes a number of recommendations relating to strategic planning, environmental impact assessment, development decisions, and compliance and enforcement. We also attached our July 2016 report, Planning for Climate Change: How the NSW planning system can better tackle greenhouse gas emissions.