We actively engage in environmental policy and law reform in NSW and Australia
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.
Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016
September 2016 – Download PDF
This EDO NSW submission makes brief comments on the NSW Government’s Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Bill 2016 and the associated Regulatory Framework Discussion Paper. EDO NSW has consistently argued that mandatory product stewardship should be enshrined in law. We therefore welcome the intent to introduce legislation to establish a container deposit scheme for NSW.
However, we note that several key details will be determined once the Bill is passed. We argue that the regulatory architecture must set clear targets, and ensure transparency and integrity of the new scheme. We recommend that sufficient time be allocated to comprehensively consult on the detail in the regulation and administrative guidelines.
See also How can we stem the tide of a plastic-polluted future?, by EDO NSW Senior Policy & Law Reform Solicitor Nari Sahukar, October 2015.
Draft Wind Energy Assessment Policy NSW
September 2016 – Download PDF
This EDO NSW submission on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s draft Wind Energy Assessment Policy makes a number of recommendations on how the NSW Government can improve its wind energy planning framework.
We welcome the Government’s proposal for a more risk-based assessment approach. In our submission, we make a number of recommendations on how the assessment framework can be improved to encourage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the dangers of global warming.
In particular, the final Policy should give significant weight to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While this gap can – and should – be addressed in the final Policy, progress is likely to be frustrated by a lack of legislated targets for renewable energy or emissions reduction in NSW. For more, see our July 2016 report Planning for climate change: how the NSW planning system can better tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Productivity Commission's Regulation of Agriculture: Draft Report - EDOs of Australia submission
August 2016 – Download PDF
In our submission, we respond to specific findings and recommendations in the Draft Report regarding native vegetation clearing. We also identify a gap in relation to environmental data, ecosystem services and environmental accounts, and submit that the Draft Report does not sufficiently consider future challenges that agricultural regulation must address, adapt and respond to regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation.
This submission follows on from our February 2015 submission on the Productivity Commission’s Issues Paper on the Regulation of Agriculture.
NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Crown Land 2016 - EDO NSW submission
July 2016 – Download PDF
We support the Government’s aims to clarify and harmonise the complex laws on managing Crown lands to ensure the environmental and cultural values of Crown lands are recognised and protected.
In our submission, we reiterate recommendations made in previous submissions: our 10 principles for Crown lands management from our 2014 submission on Crown lands; and our Travelling Stock Reserves submission (December 2015).
We also make recommendations about the best process for changing the laws. We recommend public consultation on an exposure draft Crown Lands Bill prior to introduction to Parliament. This would improve the legislation and strengthen community confidence in the process and outcomes of any reforms.
Draft Amendment to Protection of the Environment Operations Regulation (Scheduled Activities) 2016 - rail freight - EDO NSW submission
June 2016 – Download PDF
We support the intent to better regulate railway activities and assign responsibility for managing environmental and health impacts. However we have a number of concerns with the Amendment Regulation and provide recommendations for improvement, including:
- Any new licences issued as a result of the Amendment Regulation must specify clear standards and timeframes for achieving emissions reduction targets.
- Load-based fees should be applied for railway activities that emit pollutants including fine particulates and nitrogen oxides, to encourage continuous improvement.
- The Amendment Regulation should be clarified to address issues which require “shared responsibility for environmental performance” (such as wheel squeal).
- The minimum 30km track-length should be removed before a pollution licence is required for trains and railway infrastructure, to ensure all coal trains are properly regulated.