Bick & Steele: Expert environmental lawyers 


The carrying out of development may have significant impacts on the environment. 

State and Commonwealth legislation requires these impacts to be properly assessed before development is approved and, where significant impacts cannot be avoided, that they are properly monitored and appropriately mitigated.

Commonwealth legislation

The key Commonwealth legislation regulating the environmental impacts of development is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act) which is administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy.

The EPBC Act provides that an action which is likely to have a significant impact on a "Matter of National Environmental Significance" (such as internationally important wetlands or a listed threatened species) constitutes a "controlled action" which must be assessed and approved before the development can be carried out.

The mode of assessment can vary and in some cases can proceed under an accredited NSW assessment process in accordance with a bilateral assessment agreement between the Commonwealth and the State.

NSW legislation

The key legislation regulating the environmental impacts of development in NSW includes the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). 

The EPA Act is administered by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. It contains provisions requiring that the potential environmental effects of certain classes of development be properly assessed before that development is carried out. 

The EPA Act also provides that consent for development may be granted subject to conditions requiring that the environmental effects of development be monitored and mitigated.

The POEO Act is administered by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). It provides that the carrying out of certain "Scheduled Activities" requires approval under an Environment Protection Licence (EPL). The POEO Act also contains criminal offence provisions including pollution and waste offences. 

Other important State environmental legislation includes:

How we can help

At Bick & Steele, we can help you understand your obligations under Commonwealth and State environmental legislation. Based in Sydney, we’ve assisted clients across the country, providing them crucial assistance on all environmental law matters. In particular, we can: 

  • advise you on the environmental assessment and approval requirements for your development;

  • assist you with environmental due diligence;

  • assist you with approval compliance issues including responding to regulatory investigations;

  • assist you with environmental audits to ensure you are meeting compliance obligations;

  • advise you in relation to the importation, transportation and disposal of waste;

  • draft or review contractual environmental liability clauses;

  • review environmental assessment documentation to ensure that it is legally robust;

  • where appropriate, retain technical experts under legal professional privilege to advise on the potential environmental effects of development;

  • assist you to respond to pollution incidents including any associated regulatory investigation;

  • advise and represent you in relation to criminal proceedings brought in relation to an environmental offence;

  • provide training to managers and site personnel on critical environmental incident response procedures; and

  • where required, represent you in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Our experience

Examples of projects with respect to which our Directors have demonstrated their experience advising on these matters can be found here.

Contact us

To see how we can help you, please contact us