Law Reform - EDO NSW

Law reform

We actively engage in environmental policy and law reform.

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

View our recent submissions.

For national environmental matters, we work with 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.

Current opportunities for comment on law reform can be seen at Have Your Say.

Recent Submissions

Inquiry into Australia's faunal extinction crisis - Submission by EDOs of Australia

September 2018 - Download this submission

Almost 2000 species and ecological communities are listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction in Australia. A strong legal framework to protect biodiversity and build resilience is essential for reversing the trajectory towards extinction facing many of our unique species.

EDOs are all about protecting the environment through law and our contribution to this inquiry focuses on legal solutions to the extinction crisis.

We recommend a new Environment Act for Australia is needed to address the contemporary, interlinked challenges of extinction and biodiversity protection, natural resource management, land use, human settlements, production and consumption systems and climate change. The Environment Act must be underpinned by renewed national leadership, independent and trusted institutions, high levels of environmental protection, with strong community engagement and access to justice.

This submission first notes the 13 broad recommendations for biodiversity reform, and then identifies specific recommendations related to the terms of reference.


A superb parrot. Photo: Ron Knight, Wikimedia, Creative Commons

Link to this page.

Review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment regulation 2000 - EDO NSW submission

November 2017 - Download this submission

This submission comments on the NSW Government’s September 2017 Issues Paper on the Review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (Planning Regulation).

The Planning Regulation underpins the day-to-day operation of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (Planning Act), guiding the processes, plans, public consultation, impact assessment and decisions made by the Department of Planning and Environment and other planning authorities.

Part A of the submission suggests some guiding principles to inform the Review and development of a draft revised Planning Regulation. Namely: 

  • Achieving the aims of the Act, government policy objectives, and setting environmental goals
  • Transparent information and effective engagement on planning matters
  • Ensure the greatest impacts receive the greatest scrutiny (e.g. major projects)
  • Specific consultation needed on giving effect to the Planning Bill 2017.

Part B examines existing provisions and matters noted in the Issues Paper that are relevant to the public interest, and other issues that EDO NSW sees as important for any redrafted Regulation to address. 

The NSW Parliament has passed the Government’s Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2017 (Planning Bill 2017). It is very difficult to consider the impact of this lengthy Bill as well as comment on the existing Regulation. Legitimate concerns have also been raised about the effect of certain amendments in the Bill.

We strongly recommend the Department prepare specific consultation material on how it proposes to amend the Regulation to give effect to the Planning Bill 2017. We recommend this occur in advance of a draft Regulation.

Link to this submission page.

Towards a risk-based approach to wildlife licences, National Parks and Wildlife Service - EDO NSW submission

July 2018 - Download submission

This submission responds to the following consultation documents:
- Discussion Paper – Towards a risk-based approach to wildlife licences
- Revised NSW Native Animals Keepers Species List
- Draft Code of Practice for Keeping Native Reptiles
- Draft Code of Practice for Keeping Native Frogs
- Draft Code of Practice for Keeping Native Birds

EDO NSW generally supports a risk-based approach to wildlife licences. However, it must be recognised that the use of Codes may provide a defence against actions that would otherwise constitute a legal offence. As such, it is vital that risk-based management is precautionary in its approach to assigning risk and is supported by clear and enforceable management requirements. In this regard, EDO NSW submits that there should be a number of improvements made to the proposed risk-based approached and the draft Codes, should they be adopted.

Link to this page.

Draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval - EDO NSW submission

July 2018 - Download submission

The Draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) is proposed to replace four, 20-year-old IFOAs that currently operate across Eastern NSW. IFOAs regulate logging in State forests and other Crown-timber lands by the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Part A of our submission comments on high-level forestry policy drivers. In summary we submit:

  1. Wood supply policy aims must be urgently and transparently revised.
  2. Long-term values of healthy forests outweigh short-term costs of buybacks.
  3. Need for investment and up-to-date understanding of diverse forest values.
  4. Clearer links needed to ESFM principles, including the precautionary principle.
  5. Intensive harvesting limits and transitional arrangements allow unsustainable logging levels.
  6. Inadequate consultation and lack of transparency on important decisions.
  7. Forestry regulation, agencies and operators must be climate-ready and responsive.

Part B comments on the details under nine themes in the Draft Coastal IFOA:

  1. IFOA structure and ‘outcome-focused’ approach
  2. Multi-scale landscape approach
  3. Harvesting practices and limits
  4. Wildlife habitat & tree retention clumps and threatened species protections
  5. Landscape protections
  6. Environmentally Significant Areas and boundary rules
  7. Improved mapping and technology
  8. Monitoring framework
  9. Regeneration standards.

Link to this submission

Independent review of interactions between the EPBC Act and the agriculture sector - EDOs of Australia submission

June 2018 - Download submission

In summary, there is no evidence that the EPBC Act places an undue regulatory burden on landholders. The data in fact suggests that significant land clearing is actually an under-regulated area of national laws, due to a low number of referrals and the even lower number of actual federal assessments required to date. This submission makes some practical recommendations to help landholders understand how the EPBC Act works and comply with obligations that may only occasionally apply; and for improved mapping, environmental accounts and data.