Some key functions of environmental law are to:

  • Establish regulatory structures for environmental management, including regulatory agencies such as the EPAand specialist courts and tribunals such as the Land and Environment Court of NSW.
  • Enable regulators to manage environmental impacts using plans, policies, standards, licences and incentives.
  • Require those proposing environmentally significant activities to obtain approval from regulators, such as development consent.
  • Enable members of the public to take part in environmental planning and environmental assessment, such as through making submissions.
  • Require activities of environmental significance to be assessed before permission can be granted, such as through an environmental impact statement.
  • Provide administrative, civil, and criminal penalties for breaches of the law.
  • Allow the legality of the decisions of regulators to be challenged by members of the public in appropriate courts.
  • Allow the merits of certain decisions of regulators to be challenged by members of the public.
  • Allow for third parties to enforce breaches of the law through court action.

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.