Standing up in court for the environment
EDO Qld's legal success stories
Community litigation can be a powerful way to protect the environment – by enforcing laws and motivating governments to improve their enforcement, by testing laws and extending their reach, and by focusing attention on environmental threats and demonstrating where reform is needed.
Such litigation flourishes in New South Wales, where, unlike Queensland the community enjoys the benefits of legal aid for public interest environmental law. Yet EDO Qld, with pro bono assistance of members of the Queensland bar and private donations, has managed a number of cases that have achieved powerful outcomes. Not all were court wins, but sometimes the legal process itself delivers reform.
Flying-fox case 1 stopped large-scale electrocution of flying-foxes, was the first to use third party rights under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and clarified important
concepts in the Act
Flying-fox cases 3 and 4 stopped the killing of thousands of flying-foxes, achieved the removal of electric grids and were the first to use third party rights under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992.
The Springbrook planning appeal resulted in the protection of a rainforest site teeming with rare species
The Riverfront bushland planning appeal overturned approval for a residential development
in suburban bushland.
The Xstrata climate change case was the first partially successful step in an ongoing effort to ensure that climate change impacts are included in assessments of carbon-polluting developments.
The Nathan Dam case overturned the assessment process for a dam and expanded the scope required of assessments under federal environmental law
Strengthening environmental laws
EDO Qld's law reform successes
Protection of Queensland’s precious places and wondrous wildlife has been achieved by community groups campaigning for stronger laws and policies. EDO Qld is proud to have been part of important environmental victories in Queensland’s recent history, either by acting as legal advisers for environmental campaigns or by our own advocacy. Much more reform is needed, including to prevent and respond to looming climate change.
For nearly 20 years, EDO Qld has stood up on behalf of affected communities in the legislative reform process and consistently advocated for meaningful community consultation, fair and transparent decision making, timely public access to key documentation and meaningful time
frames for submissions and appeals and third party enforcement rights. This ongoing advocacy is a major contribution to social justice and to a fairer understanding by decision makers of the costs and benefits of development and resource extraction upon affected communities as well as private development interests.
EDO Qld has advocated for improvements to environmental laws since its first publication Environmental Law Reform in Queensland by Maria Comino was published in 1991. EDO Qld has a Law Reform Charter, setting out the principles to guide our advocacy.
Community groups and farmers contacted EDO for assistance with scrutinizing the environmental impacts of massive coal and gas proposalsEnvironmental flows and the Water Act
EDO Qld, working with Dr Poh-Ling Tan, was instrumental in seeing that Queensland’s Water Act 2000 provided for ecological needs in its purpose and principles.The precautionary principal
EDO Qld was instrumental in having the principle inserted in the State’s major planning legislation, the Integrated Planning Act (IPA), when it was passed by the Queensland Parliament in 1997.Third party rights in the Nature Conservation Act
EDO Qld successfully advocated for the rights of people or groups with an interest in the environment, to take action under the Nature Conservation Act.Protecting Queensland’s Wild Rivers
Some of Australia’s most majestic and pristine rivers flow in Queensland, and will continue free-flowing due to protection under the Wild Rivers Act 2005.
Supporting community efforts for environmental justice
EDO Qld's educational successes
By educating Queenslanders about their legal rights under environmental laws, EDO Qld is increasing the capacity of citizens and community groups to use the law to achieve environmental and therefore social justice. With Queensland inundated by new development projects, including many mining and coal seam gas proposals, EDO Qld cannot provide legal representation in every deserving case. But we provide free legal advice, assist groups and individuals to run their own legal cases, provide a comprehensive guide for litigants, and run workshops to explain how to use planning and environmental laws. These activities are a vital part of achieving social justice by redressing the great disparities in resources and influence between developers and the impacted community.
EDO Qld's Community Litigants Handbook provides litigants with information about the process for challenging planning decisionsSaving the Mary from Traveston Crossing Dam
EDO Qld assisted the successful campaign to stop the Traveston Crossing DamSaving Lot 402, Bribie Island
EDO Qld assisted an environment group to protect a precious patch of bushland in the Bribie Island planning appealSaving the Condamine from a feedlot
EDO Qld helped farmers defeat a feedlot proposal in the Wheatvale feedlot planning appealLegal Advice Service
EDO Qld’s free legal advice service assists hundreds of people every year to use the law.