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Changes to water protections hard to swallow

The NSW Parliament this week passed a law to overrule the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Springvale coal mine was unlawfully approved. But it went one step further and also weakened laws that protect Sydney’s drinking water catchment. This retroactive law denies the public the opportunity to hear extensive expert evidence on the future of the mine and allows industries like mining to continue polluting Sydney’s drinking water into the future.

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Climate impacts of coal before the court

The Wollar Progress Association represented by public interest environmental lawyers, Environmental Defender’s Office NSW, is bringing court action challenging a decision by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to allow the extension of the Wilpinjong open cut coal mine near Wollar, Mudgee. 

16 August 2017

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Humane Society International Australia Inc v Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Humane Society International Australia (HSI), represented by EDO NSW, sought independent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) decision to approve a lethal shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

HSI lodged an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which required a full reconsideration of the approval of the shark control program. The 10-year lethal control program targets 19 shark species in the Marine Park, including threatened and protected species. [The program originally targeted 26 species but seven were removed in July 2018.] The appeal was based on the public interest in protecting the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The case was heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from 30 January to 1 February 2019 and in April 2019 the AAT found that the program must avoid the lethal take of sharks.

Video: A case for sharks

2 April 2019: The legal challenge was wholly successful, with the AAT finding that the Shark Control Program within the Marine Park must avoid the lethal take of sharks. More here >>

12 April 2019: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries appealed the AAT decision.

18 September 2019: The appeal was dismissed by the Federal Court so the April 2019 finding by the AAT stands. More here >>

Background: The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Area globally recognised as an outstanding example of biological evolution, containing unique, rare and superlative natural features and areas of exceptional natural beauty. The World Heritage listing notes that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most complex natural ecosystems on earth and one of the most significant for biodiversity conservation. Australia has a legal responsibility to ensure its protection.

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef. HSI is concerned about the ongoing impacts caused by the use of lethal drumlines which are known to impact not only on shark species but also dolphins, turtles and rays. HSI is calling for non-lethal alternatives for bather protection.

In these proceedings, the AAT was presented with expert evidence based on the best available science relating to shark control programs.

Belinda Rayment, Solicitor at EDO NSW, has carriage of this matter for HSI Australia.

We are grateful to barristers Philip Clay SC, Saul Holt SC, Natasha Hammond and Dr Chris McGrath for their assistance in this matter.

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Four Corners Investigation highlights our work to protect the Murray-Darling Basin

Last night, ABC’s Four Corners aired an exposé of alleged illegal water harvesting in the Murray-Darling Basin. The episode highlights major flaws in the way that our scarce and precious water resources are regulated. This is a problem that EDO NSW has been working to fix for a long time, alongside successive governments, scientists and the community.

The episode focuses on allegations that irrigators in the Barwon-Darling catchment have been pumping more water from the river system than their licences, and the law, allows. It also highlights the failure of the responsible government agency to take action to protect this important resource and the communities and environments that depend on it. 

25 July 2017

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Should all environmental charities have to plant trees?

You may have heard that environmental charities are for the first time being required to report how much they spend on ‘on-ground environmental remediation’. This is part of a controversial move to restrict charitable environmental groups to activities such as tree planting, despite current rules that recognise the benefit of education, advocacy and other community services. Remediation is important, but should all environmental charities have to plant trees? That’s the question now being asked as the Treasury consults on how tax-deductible public donations are treated.

By EDO NSW Senior Policy & Law Reform Solicitor Nari Sahukar

20 July 2017

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Solomon Islands gets its first protected area

In May 2017, the Solomon Islands Government declared its country’s first ever protected area, the Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area in the Arnavon Islands. The Arnavon Islands is the biggest breeding ground for critically endangered hawksbill turtles in the South Pacific. EDO NSW is privileged to have been able to play a role in this historic development for environmental protection.

By EDO NSW International Programs Coordinator BJ Kim

6 July 2017 

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Join us in thanking our volunteers during Volunteer Week 2017

If you’ve ever called us for legal help or accessed our vast array of legal information, chances are you’ve used the services of one of our many volunteers. For National Volunteer week 2017, we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine and Kit, two of our talented, committed volunteers.

8 May 2017

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Analysis: the ever changing face of Barangaroo

The massive urban renewal project underway on public land at Barangaroo has had its fair share of controversy. It has been criticised for its ever-increasing bulk and scale, for being an abuse of the planning process, for representing bad value to the NSW public and has been the subject of two court cases, the most recent concerning the location of the Crown Sydney casino.

By EDO NSW Outreach Director - Community Programs, Jemilah Hallinan

27 March 2017

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A newly discovered frog gets some help from Kangy Angy and EDO NSW

Have you ever heard of Mahony’s Toadlet? Probably not, given that this little frog has only recently been discovered.  We’ve just helped a residents’ group from Kangy Angy, on the NSW Central Coast, get an emergency listing for this rare frog on the NSW threatened species list.

23 March 2017

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Koala Strategy for NSW

Koala Strategy of NSW - Submission by EDO NSW 

March 2017 - Download this submission.

This submission to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage addresses the following:

  1. NSW needs laws that will protect the koala and its habitat from major threats
  2. Examples where planning laws and biodiversity protections are failing
  3. New biodiversity and land clearing law
  4. Recent Submission on the Koala SEPP
  5. Review of threatened status and recovery plan: What is the risk of extinction? 

Link to this page.