Legal resources and research
This resource summarises the main rights, responsibilities and opportunities to participate under both State and national legislation. If you would like further detail about a particular area of law, you may wish to do some legal research
There are many pieces of legislation relating to the environment in NSW. This website deals with the principal laws. For information about environmental laws, see EDO NSW’s Fact Sheets. You can also go straight to the government website to look up an Act:
For Australian legislation, visit the ComLaw website, hover your mouse over Acts and click on Current. Acts are listed alphabetically. You will see a table of contents in the left screen, and the contents of the Act on the right.
For NSW legislation, visit the NSW Legislation website, click on Browse then under Browse in Force. Acts are listed alphabetically. You will see a table of contents in the left screen, and the contents of the Act on the right. You can also click on Whole Title at the top of the right screen if you want to do a full text search of the Act.
Regulations under Acts
As explained in How does the system work?, Regulations are designed to supplement legislation and provide further rules in relation to their principal Act. For a full list of Regulations, you can go directly to the government legislation websites.
Australian Regulations are listed on the ComLaw website. Hover your mouse over Legislative Instruments and click on Current.
NSW Regulations are listed under each Act. Follow the instructions above to get to an Act and click on the Regulations link at the top of the right screen. They are also listed on the NSW Legislation website. Click on Browse then under Browse in Force. Regulations are listed alphabetically. You will see a table of contents in the left screen, and the contents of the Regulation on the right. You can also click on Whole Title at the top of the right screen if you want to do a full text search of the Regulation.
Case law is the body of law developed by the courts in their decisions following court hearings. This is distinct from legislation, which is the law developed by the parliaments. Read more about case law in the description of case law.
To read about some of the case law developed from the work of EDO NSW, visit our Cases page, where you will find links to and summaries of past and present cases.
The best places to start are often a textbook or online resource, like this one, or the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC). This way you can read a summary of the laws in the area you are interested in, and be pointed to the relevant pieces of legislation, and hopefully any relevant case law as well.
Environmental law textbooks include:
The Environmental Law Handbook, by David Farrier and Paul Stein (NSW)
Environmental & Planning Law in New South Wales, by Rosemary Lyster et al (NSW)
Environmental Law in Australia, by Gerry Bates (Australia-wide)
Australian Environmental Law, by Douglas Fisher (Australia-wide)
You should be able to find these in a university library (public university libraries are generally open to the public), or your local library. If a library doesn’t have the book you are after, you can ask a librarian to order in a copy for you.
The Law Handbook also includes a chapter on environment and planning law, as well as chapters about court, freedom of information, and neighbours. This publication is available for free online, or you can find copies at your local library.
Legal Information Access Centre
For assistance with legal research, consider contacting the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC). LIAC is a specialist information service run by the State Library of NSW and is free for NSW residents.
LIAC provides legal research assistance through specialist librarians based at the State Library.
LIAC's Head Office in the NSW State Library holds a range of environmental law texts in hard copy. Through the computers at LIAC's research centre in the State Library, you can also gain online access to an extensive number of legal research materials (e.g. planning and environmental law loose-leaf services).
Rural and remote access
Many public libraries across NSW have some environmental law texts in their collections. You can also contact LIAC by email or phone and their librarians will discuss how they can assist with online access to more detailed legal research materials if necessary.
For more information on legal research at LIAC
Visit LIAC's website, or call the LIAC Head Office at the State Library of NSW in Sydney on (02) 9273 1558 Monday to Friday 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, and Sunday 1.30pm am to 5.00 pm (closed on Saturdays).
Fax: (02) 9273 1250
Post: Legal Information Access Centre State Library of New South Wales Macquarie St Sydney NSW 2000
This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.