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A visitor from Solomon Islands

William Kadi, Senior Legal Officer with the Landowners Advocacy and Legal Support Unit of the Solomon Islands Public Solicitors Office, is spending two weeks working in the EDO NSW office.

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Implementation of the NSW land clearing laws

Part 2: Clearing in urban areas and E zones

It’s been almost two years since the NSW Government introduced a new scheme for regulating land clearing and biodiversity in NSW. This EDO NSW series looks at how these laws are being implemented and the regulatory gaps that are putting our wildlife and healthy sustainable landscapes at risk.

Our first update looked at clearing in rural areas and outlined the fundamentally important parts of the scheme that are still missing even while tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes. This second update looks at elements of the new scheme that are missing or lack clarity for tree clearing in urban areas and e-zones.

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Donate to our Environmental Defence Fund today

A year ago, we were preparing to go to Court, representing community groups as they defended their land, water, farms, heritage, towns and wild places against coal mining projects that would have serious social, cultural and environmental impacts - and also contribute to dangerous climate change. One year on, sustained by people like you, we’ve won some major battles. The ground-breaking judgment in the Rocky Hill case set a new standard in Australian environmental and planning law and put us on the map in terms of international climate litigation. 

Make your tax-deductible donation to our Environmental Defence Fund today.

But the war is far from over. As last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, and this month’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Report on global species extinction illustrate in terrible detail, we need to do much more to avoid the destruction of our shared home.

There is much more we need to do, and little time to do it.

You can help by making a tax-deductible gift today.

“The health of the ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” Robert Watson, chair of IPBES. “We have lost time. We must act now.”

With the support of our donors, our Law Reform team developed a roadmap - Climate Ready Planning Laws – to fill the gap between our international commitments on climate change and our current planning laws. We are sharing it with lawmakers across the country and the political spectrum, as they consider the new approaches so desperately needed to save our oceans, rivers, forests, unique animals and plants… and our climate.

Help advance the law by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Meanwhile, this January, residents of the NSW Central Coast were horrified to learn that, despite being knocked back twice over the past 22 years due to the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the drinking water catchment, a new underground coal mine had been approved, right in their backyard.  

On 8 February, Chief Judge Brian Preston of the Land and Environment Court created Australian legal history, finding that the Rocky Hill coal mine was in the wrong place at the wrong time because "the (greenhouse gas) emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of (greenhouse gases) at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions".

On the 8 May, mining company Gloucester Resources Limited finally announced it would not file an appeal against the decision. This means that Chief Judge Preston’s ground-breaking judgment stands.

We are proud of what we have been able to achieve for our clients, with the help of our network of expert scientists, dedicated pro bono Counsel, and people like you.

Across NSW, Australia and the South Pacific, communities face threats to their homes and livelihoods, their cultural and architectural heritage, social and emotional wellbeing, landscapes and wildlife. By supporting EDO, you give them access to justice and a chance to stand up to powerful forces threatening everything they – and we – hold dear.

We need to raise $100,000 by June 30 in order to provide the core support our expert litigation, education and law reform teams need to underpin this work. Your generosity today will help empower people and communities under threat.

Help us meet our June 30 target.

Watching the recent biopic about the indomitable American judge and gender equality advocate, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, I was struck by the repeated line: "A court ought not be affected by the weather of the day, but will be by the climate of the era".

It seems clear to me that Australian law should recognise the primacy of protecting our life support systems and safeguarding the health of future generations. The Environmental Defenders Office is dedicated to realising this goal.

As I write, there are three major mine projects in NSW – Bylong, Vickery and United Wambo – awaiting decisions from the Independent Planning Commission (formerly PAC). Our tireless legal team is providing advice and support to these mining-affected communities, all desperately waiting for the fate of their homes and farmland to be decided.

These three projects have a far bigger carbon footprint than Rocky Hill. We know that environmental and planning law that requires serious consideration of climate change impacts will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I hope that the science will prevail and Chief Judge Preston’s ‘wrong time’ test will be applied.

Now’s the time to act – the Rocky Hill judgment shows that the law can work to protect us, as long as it’s applied in a way that gives the necessary weight to the health of humans, animals, plants and our shared home.

The impact of climate change is a hugely traumatic thing to confront, but together we are not helpless. We have the legal solutions and we need your help to keep fighting. Please make a tax-deductible donation to our Environmental Defence Fund today.

Thank you for standing with us to protect the environment and advance the law,

Yours truly,

David Morris CEO - Solicitor

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A message from Julie Lyford, chair of Groundswell Gloucester:

The community of Gloucester and most importantly the affected residents are absolutely delighted that they can now get on with their lives. The uncertainty and anxious waiting is over.

The decade-long fight to protect our homes, families and the beautiful Gloucester valley has been arduous and distressing. The community can now move forward with progressive and sustainable industry.

Indeed, since the news in early 2016 regarding AGL not proceeding with their 330-well gas field, then the refusal of the Rocky Hill coal mine, house prices have risen and housing stock as well as new builds are in hot demand. Tourism this Easter weekend was very strong. Service industries and light industrial business continue to grow. Gloucester has always been a desirable destination to visit, live and grow the economy.

With climate change threatening the planet, we owe it to this and future generations to step away from fossil fuel, embrace renewables and work towards just transitions.

EDO NSW has been the backbone of all environmental community campaigns.

Everyone: support the Environmental Defenders Office!


Implementation of the NSW land clearing laws

Part 1: The missing pieces

It’s been almost two years since the NSW Government introduced a new scheme for regulating land clearing and biodiversity in NSW. While the business of tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes, fundamentally important parts of the scheme are still missing. This EDO NSW series of legal updates looks at how the laws are being implemented and the regulatory gaps that are putting our wildlife and healthy sustainable landscapes at risk. This first update looks at the missing pieces.

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Three EDO Best Lawyers

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EDO lawyers top of class

Three lawyers from the Environmental Defenders Office NSW have the significant honour of being  recognised amongst the nation’s best in the recently released peer-reviewed Best Lawyers guide 2020.

Independent recognition >>


Peers confirm EDO lawyers are top of class

EDO NSW’s lawyers have been recognised amongst the nation’s best in the recently released Best Lawyers guide of 2020.

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Australian-based developer appeals historic decision against Solomon Islands bauxite mine

May 2019: The first and ground-breaking decision by the Solomon Islands Environment Advisory Committee (EAC) refusing development consent for a bauxite mine on Wagina Island has been appealed by the developer, Solomon Bauxite Limited (SBL).

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Large-scale Corowa ‘eco-tourism’ proposal rejected

The Western Regional Planning Panel (WRPP) has rejected a proposal to develop a 600-person ‘eco-tourism’ facility on rural land on the banks of an anabranch of the Murray River near Corowa.

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Diverse Women in Law

EDO NSW paralegal Cecilia Fonseca has become a founding member of Diverse Women in Law (DWL), a Sydney-based group that aims to work directly with women from diverse backgrounds in the legal sector.

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No more lethal shark control for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

An important legal challenge run by EDO NSW, on behalf of the Humane Society International Australia (HSI), to the use of lethal shark drumlines within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has been successful, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal finding that the Shark Control Program within the Marine Park must avoid the lethal take of shark species.

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