Environment and planning in Australia


At Ashurst, the environment and planning team is extremely active in respect of major infrastructure schemes, recently acting on the WestConnex and Regional Rail Revival projects, among others; its expertise also extends to renewables and mining projects as well as related disputes, a front on which the group enjoys a proven track record in Federal Court proceedings issued by environmental NGOs. The practice has always been active as an advisor to governments and government agencies though has been increasingly busy in that space of late, often acting on planning-related appeals in the Planning and Environment Court. In Melbourne, Robert Jamieson’s status as an authority in the area is evident through his previously role as a part-time lecturer at the School of Environmental Planning at Melbourne University; he heads the practice together with Brisbane-based John Briggs who is a specialist in planning and local government law in Queensland in addition to environmental compliance matters, contamination issues and the laws governing carbon, water and the climate. The department has notable strength in depth with senior associates Paul Wilson and Jane Hall both playing active roles in key matters.

Practice head(s):

Robert Jamieson; John Briggs

Key clients

NSW Government

Victorian Government

Queensland Government

Melbourne City Council

Pedbody Australia


Alcoa of Australia



MACH Energy Australia

Work highlights

  • Advising AGL on its proposed development of an LNG receiving terminal at Crib Point in Victoria.    
  • Acting for Rail Projects Victoria on the $1.75bn Regional Rail Revival Project, which will upgrade stations, signalling and track across every regional passenger train line in Victoria and create over 1,000 jobs.
  • Advising the NSW Government on the 33km WestConnex project which will bring together a number of important road projects which together form a vital link in Sydney’s Orbital Network. It is the largest urban road project in the southern hemisphere and involves widening of the M4, the M4 East extension, a duplication of the M5 East and the new M4-M5 link to provide a connection between the two key corridors.

Clayton Utz

Clayton Utz is home to market-leading environment and planning prowess in a number of areas. Not only does it advise on significant infrastructure projects across the entirety of Australia but its input is also sought for energy and natural resources, energy, and real estate construction planning matters. The team is also revered for regulatory approvals and compliance in the energy and resources sector and is also well-equipped for environmental law concerns, including both advisory and contentious affairs. Karen Trainor is a go-to name for corporate environmental compliance matters though operates a notably broad caseload on behalf of energy, manufacturing, mining, and government clients; her team also includes Sydney-based Brendan Bateman who in addition to advising on the high-profile Sydney Metro West project, has carved out a reputation for climate change law including emerging clean technology, renewable energy, and carbon markets. Additional key components of the practice include environment social governance issues and environment and planning-related inquiries. Kathryn Pacey is based in Brisbane alongside Trainor; she has led on a number of road and rail infrastructure projects of late, in addition to advising on environmental policy matters.

Practice head(s):

Karen Trainor

Key clients

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)

Victorian Government – Department of Transport / Department of Economic Development, Jobs and Transport

Graymont Limited

Queensland Government including Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, Queensland Coordinator General, and Department of State Development, Manufacturing and Planning

Cameco Australia

Chevron Corporation

New South Wales Government including Transport for NSW (previously Roads and Maritime Services) and Sydney Metro


Origin Energy Limited

DBNGP (WA) Nominees Pty Ltd (Dampier to Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline), part of the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group

New Hope Corporation

nbn co ltd

EnergyAustralia Group

Liberty OneSteele

New South Wales Health – Sydney Local Health District (SLHD)

Alcoa of Australia Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Australian Rail Track Corporation on the environmental and planning law issues relating to The Inland Rail Programme. With an estimated capital cost of A$10bn and a 10-year construction timeframe, it is Australia’s largest-ever rail project.
  • Representing New Hope Corporation in high profile litigation relating to the expansion of the A$900m expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine.
  • Advising TransGrid on the A$1.5bn Project EnergyConnect which will be a critically important part of Australia’s energy future and involves the construction of a high voltage interconnector between the power grids of South Australia and New South Wales, with an optional connection to Victoria.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Among the market’s ‘leading planning and environment groups’, Norton Rose Fulbright is praised for its ‘ability to advise on and navigate the political elements of the planning and environment system’. It represents clients from the private and public sectors alike on a broad array of affairs including planning appeals, development challenges, compliance, risk management, incident response, climate change, and land acquisition compensation range. Based in Brisbane, practice head Rebecca Hoare has distinguished expertise in native title and Aboriginal cultural heritage affairs; her team also provides specialist capacity in relation to contamination, biodiversity, and built heritage matters and is able to call upon various technical advisers such as architects, urban planners, and environmental engineers. Sydney-based Elizabeth Wild is also a key name, providing the team with specialist knowledge of contaminated land and remediation law.

Practice head(s):

Rebecca Hoare


‘The Team had excellent experience and knowledge applicable to the EES process they were engaged to work on. This meant they were extremely efficient and able to provide timely and appropriate advice fully understanding the likely issues that would be a priority to address. They were extremely flexible, often having to deal with tight time frames and client-related delays. Adherence to the budget was also very well managed.’

‘They are a market-leading planning and environment group with experts across the relevant fields. One of the group’s greatest strengths is its ability to advise on and navigate the political elements of the Victorian planning and environment system. This skill has been honed from years of experience in the industry.’

Key clients


Commonwealth Government

Transport for NSW


Goodman International



Property NSW

Victorian Government (including VicRoads and Department of Health and Human Services)

Roads and Maritime Services, NSW


Newmark Capital Limited

Suez Recycling & Recovery Pty Ltd

Fulton Hogan

Cleanaway Pty Ltd

Country Carbon

Laing O’Rourke

CWP Renewables

Qantas Airways Limited


Work highlights

  • Advised on one of the largest claims in NSW history for $583m in compensation following the acquisition of land. This matter relates to the ongoing WestConnex Motorway Project in Sydney, one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia.
  • Acting for two alleged executive officers of Linc Energy in a prosecution by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science – a matter which forms part of one of the biggest and most complex environmental prosecution in Queensland’s history.
  • Advised the Department of Transport on the Environment Effects Statement for the $16.5bn North East Link project in Victoria.


Allens is well-regarded for regulatory matters pertaining to pollution and environmental liability law with a documented history of acting on environmental prosecution defence matters. In addition, it excels in the environmental risk factors in the context of corporate transactions and privatisations and also actively works on development-related considerations; examples include community consultation, heritage, and native title issues, along with endangered species requirements. Key partner contacts include Bill McCredie, Felicity Rourke, Jillian Button, and Eve Lynch.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

At Corrs Chambers Westgarth, ‘the industry-leading partners are extremely well supported by the wider staff and team’. Louise Camenzuli heads the practice, spreading her focus across residential, retail, energy, industrial, commercial and major government projects across New South Wales. She operates from Sydney alongside Christine Covington who ‘always goes above and beyond’ and provides notable experience in urban renewal and mining schemes. Elsewhere, the team is particularly well-versed in transport-related projects and also regularly advises on regulatory and contentious matters in the energy, mining, waste, contamination, and pollution sectors. Other key strengths include environmental, social, and governance matters, climate change, and developer contribution issues. Recently promoted partner Anna White splits her time between Brisbane and Melbourne and is noted for her 'prompt, detailed and well-researched' service.

Practice head(s):

Louise Camenzuli

Other key lawyers:

Christine Covington; Anna White

Key clients


MACH Energy

Infrastructure NSW

John Holland



Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL)

Regional Growth Development Corporation – New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC)


Billbergia Group


Sekisui House (SH Coolum Pty Ltd)

Water NSW

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Transport for NSW

Work highlights

  • Advising Infrastructure NSW on the iconic urban renewal development project at central Barangaroo in Sydney. We reviewed transactional documents for the site containing public space for recreation, events and entertainment and a Sydney Metro station.  
  • Advising Pulse Consortium on the Powering Sydney’s Future project on planning and environmental approvals for a major network cabling upgrade in Sydney, and on compulsory purchase of land and on interpretation of the complex land access provisions of the NSW Electricity Supply Act.
  • Advising John Holland on a range of contentious contamination and approvals issues associated with the delivery of the AUD6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel project, particularly issues associated with PFAS contamination.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills is home to a dedicated environment, planning and communities department which specialises in risk minimalization, regulatory approvals, native title, and indigenous cultural heritage affairs, among other matters. The team is also well-equipped for incident and crisis management and supports on a range of projects, including those in the energy and mining, infrastructure, urban development, and regeneration sectors. Sydney-based Peter Briggs leads the department.

Practice head(s):

Peter Briggs

King & Wood Mallesons

Representing a client roster of blue-chip and government clients, King & Wood Mallesons enjoys a strong reputation for large scale infrastructure and natural resources advisory matters, also handling disputes in the transport, global retail, education, and sporting facility sectors. In Brisbane, Matthew Austin imparts market-leading expertise in relation to PFAS contamination as well as mining rehabilitation and performance security reforms. Elsewhere in Sydney, Debra Townsend has recently advised on a number of high-end projects, supporting on a range of issues including biodiversity offsets, acquisition issues, rehabilitation strategies, and approval risk issues. The pair jointly head the department alongside Melbourne-based Mark Beaufoy, an expert when it comes to contaminated lands, greenfield, and infrastructure development planning approvals, water regulations, and environment-related disputes.

Other key lawyers:

Sally Audeyev; Michael Causer

Key clients



GM Holden

BHP Billiton

GPT Group

Telstra Corporation Limited



Commonwealth Government in relation to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (National Royal Commission into Black Summer Bushfires).

Bunnings Group Limited

Origin Energy


Rio Tinto

Infrastructure for New South Wales



Tiffany & Co

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended the proceedings allowing redevelopment building works to continue. The appeals were heard in both the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales and the New South Wales Court of Appeal.
  • Advising on BHPs proposed expansion at Olympic Dam in South Australia. Our role includes the examination of past approval, exemption issues through to strategic advice on approval options, managing risks and a range of native title and Aboriginal heritage issues. KWMs extended to public engagement and liaising with regulators.        
  • Acting for EMR Capital in the competitive deal through the due diligence to secure the gold mining tenements and the purchase of Ravenswood Gold Mine, Queensland.

Minter Ellison

Hailed as ‘well-structured with a broad of skills and expertise’, the team at Minter Ellison is geared to handle planning and environmental approvals, licenses to operate, NGO litigation, permits, compliance investigations, and regulatory actions, including prosecutions. Sydney-based Simon Ballstands head and shoulders above his peers’ in relation to native title, mining, and petroleum and administrative law matters with the distinguished accolade of being a qualified above ground mind manager. He heads the department which specialises in the retail, mining, infrastructure, urban renewal, quarrying, and resources development sectors and frequently acts for government entities.

Practice head(s):

Simon Ball

Key clients

Rio Tinto


Shenhua Coal

Benedict Industries


Whitehaven Coal


Scentre Group (Westfield)






Anglo American

State Governments in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria

Work highlights

  • Key legal and strategic adviser to some of Australia’s largest and most complex mines across the eastern seaboard (total value over A$5bn)    
  • Advising major developers on all aspects from planning through to delivery in priority development areas including Greater Springfield (A$17bn to date) and Greater Flagstone (A$4 bn to date).
  • Managing complex compulsory acquisitions at all stages from early engagement with owners to litigation for major infrastructure including WestConnex, Parramatta Light Rail, New Intercity Fleet and New Grafton Correctional Centre PPP.

White & Case

White & Case comes highly recommended for its ‘extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with the planning, environmental, and land tenure frameworks for renewable energy projects’. The team is also an active player when it comes to transport schemes, working on several multi-billion-dollar mandates of late, and also directs heavy emphasis to advisory work for south-east Australia’s mining industry. Melbourne-based Tim Power heads the department, leveraging a track record of handling the environmental, planning, and land assembly requirements of major projects while also delivering specialist knowledge of pollution and contamination law. Recently, the team has recently advised a number of high-profile names on environmental and social governance and compliance. Also based in Melbourne is counsel Fiona Curl who directs her attention to passenger rail, road, and renewable energy projects.

Practice head(s):

Tim Power

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Keen; Fiona Curl

Key clients

Suburban Rail Loop Authority / Minister for Transport Infrastructure

Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Star of the South Wind Farm Pty Ltd

Neoen Australia Pty Ltd

West Wind Energy Pty Ltd

Iluka Ltd

RES Australia Pty Ltd

AusNet Services Group

H2U Investments Pty Ltd

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions on the planning, regulatory approvals, and land assembly strategy for the approval and commercialisation of the CarbonNet carbon capture and storage project.
  • Advising on the development of the Star of the South, Australia’s first proposed offshore wind farm, located in Gippsland Victoria.
  • Advising the Suburban Rail Loop Authority in relation to the investment case, land assembly, and environment and planning approvals for the A$50bn Suburban Rail Loop Project.

Baker McKenzie

Clients recommend Baker McKenzie for its ‘rapid responses and ability to quickly review information and understand key issues. The team is jointly led by Kate Phillips, Paul Curnow, and Ilona Millar, all of whom are based in Sydney, and holds proficiency in relation to environmental advisory, litigation, waste, compliance, and due diligence matters. It is also adept in planning law, product and emission regulation, native title and climate change considerations, frequently acting on critical infrastructure and transport, water and waste projects.

Other key lawyers:

Lauren Kirkwood; Meredith Gibbs

Key clients

Orora Limited

United Wambo Joint Venture (Glencore and Peabody)

Queensland Department of Environment and Science

Home Consortium

Asian Development Bank

Accounting for Nature Limited


Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade



Work highlights

  • Advising Orora Limited on the sale of its Australasian Fibre Business (which includes the Botany Paper Mill, fibre converting, specialty packaging, cartons, bags, functional coatings and Orora WRS packaging distribution) to Opal Packaging Australia Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Paper Industries.        
  • Acting as lead legal advisors on the AU$500m Land Restoration Fund established in 2019 by the Queensland government as its flagship climate change mitigation policy action to fund carbon farming and conservation/co-benefits projects in Queensland.
  • Provided advice on the climate law and policy matters relevant to the United / Wambo Joint Venture’s submission to the IPC.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

Clients recommend Colin Biggers & Paisley for its ‘depth of experience and excellent strategical advice’. On the planning side, the team is best-known for supporting on retail, residential community, commercial, tourism, industrial, and resource projects, supporting structure plans, planning schemes, and disputes, among other matters. Active also on the environmental front, the workload includes compliance, licensing, contamination, and enforcement matters in addition to impact assessment mandates. Brisbane-based Ian Wright leads the department and is acclaimed for his ‘excellent knowledge and thorough robust discussion’.

Practice head(s):

Ian Wright

Other key lawyers:

Todd Neal, Ben Caldwell

Key clients

Sunshine Coast Regional Council

Ipswich City Council

Polaris Coomera Pty Ltd

Moreton Bay Regional Council

Logan City Council

Whitsunday Regional Council

Pellicano Pty Ltd

Clearstate Pty Ltd

MPG AU Pty Ltd

Pacific Planning Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting on a project which involves the development of the Palmview declared master plan area on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane, which extends over an area greater than 900 hectares with a planned new residential population of 17,000 people.    
  • Defending not-for-profit, charitable organisation Marist Youth Care Ltd (trading as Marist180) in Class 4 Land and Environment Court proceedings. Marist180 operates “transitional group homes” on behalf of the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services throughout NSW.
  • Handling a matter relating to the funding and delivery of local government infrastructure to support the Yarrabilba and Greater Flagstone Priority Development Areas (PDAs). Logan City Council, as the responsible local government for the PDAs, will be responsible for providing water and sewerage services to the PDAs together with upgrading the local government roads surrounding the PDAs to cope with the additional traffic which will be generated by the additional population.


A ‘superb multi-disciplinary team that goes beyond expectation’, Maddocks regularly advises on the planning and environmental aspects of major land releases and urban renewal projects. The team represents a broad number of commercial clients though holds distinguished expertise in acting for public sector clients, regularly supporting government clients on regulatory matters, and also acting for councils on waste collection, disposal strategy, processing recycling matters. Sydney-based Michael Winram fronts the department together with Maria Marshall in Melbourne.

Practice head(s):

Michael Winram; Maria Marshall

Key clients

State Government departments and agencies, including the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Transport for NSW, Sydney Water, Hunter & Central Coast Development Corporation, Sydney Trains, Fire and Rescue NSW, TAFE NSW,  the Victorian Minister of Planning and Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Local government in Victoria and New South Wales. We act for more than 125 local government authorities

Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy

Water authorities, including Sydney Water, Yarra Valley Water Corporation and Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water Authority


Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council

CSR Limited

Airservices Australia

Lovely Banks Development Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for the alliance of councils in their review of the Environmental Effects Statement for the North East Link in Melbourne’s north east suburbs. The project involved a consideration of a published environmental effects statement under the Environmental Effects Act 1978 (Vic).
  • Acting for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to draft and negotiate various land access and mining compensation agreements required by the Mining Act 1992 (NSW).
  • Assisting Airservices Australia in its response to PFAS contamination at 56 airports in Australia

McCullough Robertson

The offering at McCullough Robertson includes strategies and processes for regulatory approvals, water rights, risk mitigation, and environmental impact assessment matters. Working across large greenfield and expansion projects, among others, the team is co-headed by Brisbane-based Stuart Macnaughton who has recently handled a number of planning advice and appeal matters, as well as Patrick Holland, a lawyer well-versed in environmental regulation and project approvals who frequently acts on government, mining, water management, and property development matters.

Other key lawyers:

Kate Swain; Sarah Hausler

Key clients

Bowdens Silver

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group


Cobar Management

Water NSW

Gold Coast City Council

Peabody Energy Australia

Bengal Coal

Queensland Government (Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning)

Queensland Government (Department of Transport and Main Roads)

Work highlights

  • Advising on the Bowdens Silver project, the largest, undeveloped silver deposit in Australia and one of the largest globally.  The project is located near the village of Lue, approximately 30km east of Mudgee in central NSW.
  • Providing work health and safety, environment and planning, insurance and construction advice to Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, owners and operators of a major Australian coal export terminal in Newcastle, New South Wales and supply coal storage, rail and shiploading facilities for a variety of regions.
  • The client, which is owned by Glencore, CMPL is owned by Glencore, operates the CSA Mine, an underground copper mine located in Cobar, Central Western NSW. The team is advising on all planning and regulatory matters associated with the operation of the mine.