Environmental Law Australia

Case Studies

Michael Smith a Maori elder and Plaintiff/Appellant in the case.

Smith v Fonterra

A remarkable decision for climate litigation globally.

Waratah Coal v Youth Verdict (Galilee Coal Project)

A landmark decision rejecting a major coal mine in Queensland based on human rights, climate change and other grounds.

Sharma v Minister for the Environment

A groundbreaking decision at trial on the duty of care for climate change in Australia that was overturned on appeal.

Gloucester Resources (“Rocky Hill”) case

A groundbreaking, inspiring case against the climate impacts of a coal mine.

Top 5 landmark environmental legal cases in Australia

The “Top 5 landmark environmental legal cases in Australia” listed by the Australian Geographic on 16 July 2018.

Tasmanian Dam Case

The most famous and influential environmental law case in Australian history. It was also a landmark in Australian constitutional law.

"Stephen", a juvenile Spectacled Flying Fox

Flying Fox Case

The first test case under the EPBC Act and landmark public interest litigation to stop the killing of thousands of flying foxes on a lychee farm in North Queensland.

Somerset Dam, south-east Queensland

Nathan Dam case

A major test case for environmental impact assessment under the EPBC Act, which established that direct and indirect impacts of an action are relevant when assessing the impacts of actions under the Act.

Windella Ramsar wetland after clearing

Greentree case

An important trial and appeal in the Federal Court of Australia to restrain farmers in northern NSW from contravening the EPBC Act by clearing and ploughing 100 ha of a Ramsar Wetland in preparation for planting a wheat crop.

Minke whale killed by employees of Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd on 16 December 2001 approximately 40 nautical miles within the Australian Whale Sanctuary

Japanese Whaling case

An application for a declaration and an injunction in the Federal Court under the EPBC Act to restrain Japanese whaling in the Australian Whale Sanctuary adjacent to Antarctica.

Wildlife Whitsunday case

A challenge to decisions under the EPBC Act involving the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions from two Queensland coal mines, Isaac Plains and Sonoma.

Anvil Hill Coal Mine case

A judicial review challenge in the Federal Court against the consideration under the EPBC Act of greenhouse gas emissions from a large coal mine, the Anvil Hill Project (later renamed the Mangoola Open Cut), in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Shoalwater & Corio Bay Ramsar Wetland

Waratah Coal case

Judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court undertaken in 2008 by Waratah Coal Inc against a refusal of a $5.3 billion coal mine, railway and port by the Federal Environment Minister.

Australian or Queensland lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri

Paradise Dam case

An application in the Federal Court for a declaration and an injunction to restrain an alleged breach of a condition of approval under the EPBC Act for a large dam in Queensland.

Carmichael Coal (“Adani”) Mine cases in the Federal Court

Litigation in the Federal Court of Australia against one of the largest coal mines in the world.

Female South-Eastern Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo

Lamattina case

A civil prosecution in the Federal Court of a South Australian farmer for clearing 170 eucalyptus trees, thereby causing a significant impact on a threatened species contrary to section 18 of the EPBC Act.

Front page story of The Armidale Express, 15 December 1976, concerning pollution from the site

Alec Finlayson Pty Ltd v Armidale City Council

Litigation for negligence against a NSW local government for approving a residential development on contaminated land.

Members of the Australian navy fastrapel from a helicopter launched from HMAS Canberra to arrest the Volga

The “Volga” Cases

The Volga Cases concerned the arrest of the Russian-flagged longline fishing vessel, Volga, which was apprehended by the Australian Navy for illegally fishing for Patagonian Toothfish in the Australian Fishing Zone.

Bulldozers on the Pelican Links site undertaking pre-emptive clearing on 21 July 2004, taken by officers of the Caloundra City Council from a helicopter

Pelican Links cases

A series of cases in the Planning and Environment Court, Magistrates Court, District Court and Court of Appeal involving pre-emptive clearing and a planning appeal for a large residential development near Caloundra in South-East Queensland.

Springbrook groundwater case

A current appeal in the P&E Court against refusal of an application for commercial water extraction in the midst of World Heritage areas on the Springbrook plateau in SE Queensland.

Building designer's impression of proposed development from street

Tornabene appeal

A routine and typical development application and subsequent appeal under Queensland’s planning laws.

Southern Cassowary

Cassowary case

An appeal in the Planning and Environment Court under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld) concerning the impacts of a proposed rural residential subdivision on cassowary habitat.

Aerial of proposed sand mine site used as evidence in the trial

Donnybrook Sand Mine case

An appeal in the Planning and Environment Court about a large sand mine adjacent to a Ramsar Wetland.

Frippery case

A case to restrain fruit farmers from electrocuting flying-foxes under Queensland’s nature conservation laws.

Dick Yardley standing in front of part of the electric grid on his farm

Yardley case

A case showing the importance of public interest litigation to protect the environment where government regulators fail to act and the tenacity sometimes required to succeed.

Plumb's Chambers at 82 and 84 Fitzroy Street, Warwick

Plumb’s Chambers case

An appeal in the Planning and Environment Court against demolition of two cultural heritage listed buildings at Warwick.

“Champagne flutes” appeal

A very significant appeal for planning law in Queensland which emphasises the importance of development complying with the planning scheme.

Khyber case

An appeal to the Land Court of Queensland by a landholder against refusal of a tree clearing permit under the Land Act 1994 (Qld) for a pastoral property known as “Khyber”.

Newlands Coal Mine case

An objection in the Queensland Land and Resources Tribunal against the greenhouse gas emissions from the expansion of the Newlands Coal Mine in Queensland.

Sample pit near Wandoan showing one of the coal seams proposed to be mined

Wandoan Coal Mine (“Xstrata”) case

An objection to a major open-cut coal mine proposed to operate for 30 years in Queensland and produce 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Alpha Coal Mine Case

A landmark challenge by local graziers and conservation groups against a large coal mine in central Queensland showing the importance of public objection rights.

Kevin’s Corner Coal Mine Case

Litigation in the Land Court of Queensland over the groundwater and economic impacts of a large coal mine.

Carmichael Coal (“Adani”) Mine Cases in Queensland courts

Major court disputes in the Land Court and Supreme Court of Queensland involving one of the world’s largest proposed coal mines.

New Acland Coal Mine Case

An enormous, hard-fought community battle to protect farmland from a major coal mine in Queensland.

Bulldozer with felled tree in rainforest

R v Dempsey

An application for leave to appeal to the Queensland Court of Appeal against a sentence imposed by the District Court of Queensland for illegal logging in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Cover of the Courier Mail from October 2005 with headline reading "Sly logging not enough to land grazier in jail"

R v Boyle

A prosecution and sentencing of a serious environmental crime in the District Court of Queensland. The facts involved clearing of a large swath of a national park by a grazier to allow ease of movement of his cattle between paddocks.

The offender being apprehended

Broughton v Nguyen

A summary criminal prosecution in the Magistrates Court of Queensland for fisheries offences resulting in a $30,000 fine.

Aerial photograph showing clearing on Yarrol property.

Hudson case

A criminal prosecution in the NSW Land and Environment Court and an appeal for illegal clearing of native vegetation illustrating important principles for sentencing of environmental offences.

EPA photograph tendered in evidence of the disposal site

EPA v Feodoroff

A summary criminal prosecution and sentencing for a relatively minor environmental offence in the NSW Local Court at Ballina. The case also involved a dispute on costs.

Logging at Brown Mountain

Brown Mountain Logging case

A proceeding in the Victorian Supreme Court to restrain logging at Brown Mountain, part of the extensive history of litigation against logging in East Gippsland, Victoria.

Hazelwood Power Station, Victoria

The groundbreaking Hazelwood Power Station case

One of the first climate change cases in Australia.

Maryfield Station clearing case in the NT Supreme Court

Landmark climate litigation in the NT Supreme Court over land clearing on a pastoral property, Maryfield Station.

Shark drumline case

A case stopping the use of drumlines to kill sharks in the Great Barrier Reef.