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EDO's Community Litigants Handbook: the ‘bible for environmental litigants’

31 August, 2010

Commonly referred to as the ‘bible for environmental litigants’, EDO Qld’s Community Litigants Handbook provides a step-by-step guide to conducting a planning appeal in the Queensland Planning and Environment Court. In the foreword to the Fourth edition of the Handbook, Judge Michael Rackemann of the Planning and Environment Courts says the Handbook “has proven to be an invaluable resource” and that it “makes a real and substantial contribution to access to environmental justice.”

EDO Qld's Community Litigants Handbook provides litigants with information about the process for challenging planning decisions, empowering citizens to use the legal system to protect the environment.

In the foreword to the Fourth edition of the Handbook (YEAR), Judge Michael Rackemann of the Planning and Environment Courts says the Handbook “has proven to be an invaluable resource” and that it “makes a real and substantial contribution to access to environmental justice.” He says that judges, where appropriate, draw it to the attention of self-represented litigants.

EDO Qld’s vision is that the Community Litigants Handbook will help more and more Queenslanders become effective litigants on behalf of the environment. As well as stopping damaging developments, this will encourage governments to make better planning decisions.

When decision-makers know that well-informed individuals and community groups are willing to challenge their decisions in court, they are more likely to seriously consider environmental impacts.


In 2006 Townsville City Council gave approval for a tourism operator to run camel tours on the undeveloped western side of World Heritage-listed Magnetic Island. With the holding pens only 50 metres from a melaleuca wetland, local ecologist Jenny Terrey and other residents were worried about the potential for pollution of an environmentally sensitive area.

In 2008 the Southern Downs Regional Council approved a large feedlot on the Condamine floodplain west of Warwick. The Council over-rode the objections of local grazier John Greacen and many other residents concerned about toxic wastes washing into the Condamine River and foul odours.

Each had objected during public consultation on the proposals. Their only option was to challenge their council’s decision in court. But neither John nor Jenny could afford to hire solicitors and barristers to represent them.

By consulting EDO Qld’s Community Litigants Handbook and seeking advice from EDO lawyers, John and Jenny were able to represent themselves and fellow objectors in Queensland’s Planning and Environment Court. Each of them succeeded, with the feedlot application being declared invalid and the camel operator withdrawing his proposal.

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