North Coast Environment Council Inc v Department of Environment and Climate Change & Ors
EDO NSW acted for the North Coast Environment Council Inc (NCEC) in this matter. The NCEC filed an application in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal challenging the decision of the Department of Environment and Climate Change ( DECC ) to refuse NCEC access to information it holds regarding logging approvals on private land.
The NCEC lodged a Freedom of Information Application with DECC seeking information on private logging operations in NSW. The NCEC sough the information in order to independently assess how the relatively new system of regulation over logging on private lands was being applied.
DECC refused access, claiming that the material sought contained the business affairs and personal affairs of the landholders. DECC aslo said that landholders may be subject to trespass, property damage and blockades if the material were to be released. NCEC believed that DECC did not apply the Act in accordance with the law and that it was in the public interest that the information be released.
Five landholders that conduct private logging operations on their land joined the proceedings. They claimed that their property and commercial interests would be adversely affected if the information held by DECC was released. No evidence to support such claims was provided.
Prior to the hearing, DECC agreed to release the documents to the NCEC and the matter was settled by way of consent orders.
EDO NSW acknowledges and thanks barrister Jason Lazarus for his assistance in this matter.