LAW 2511 - Environmental Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

An introduction to the concepts and principles which underpin environmental law from the international to the local level. The course will address Constitutional responsibilities and roles relating to the environment; sustainable development and the law; environmental planning through environmental impact assessment and land-use law; environmental protection principles, climate change water resources law; heritage issues and the protection of biological diversity.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2511
    Course Environmental Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2070
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 2501
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description An introduction to the concepts and principles which underpin environmental law from the international to the local level. The course will address Constitutional responsibilities and roles relating to the environment; sustainable development and the law; environmental planning through environmental impact assessment and land-use law; environmental protection principles, climate change water resources law; heritage issues and the protection of biological diversity.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Mr Paul Leadbeter

    Paul Leadbeter
    Ligertwood Building
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The subject Environmental Law (2511) has a value of 3 units and involves a 2 hour lecture each week for 12 weeks. There will also be a total of 12, one(1) hour seminars held weekly.

    Lectures will be held each Tuesday between 2.00pm and 4.00pm in Physics 103 Kerr Grant Lecture theatre. It is intended to record the lectures although physical attendance by students at the lectures is both encouraged and appreciated by the lecturer.

    The seminar times offered are on every Monday between 11am and 12noon  and 3pm and 4pm, Tuesday between 11am and 12noon and 12noon and 1pm. Once you have nominated for a particular seminar group you will be expected to remain in that group for the duration of the course. 

    Each seminar will comprise either discussion focussed around a set of reading materials and questions issued prior to the class or consideration of particular problems of the type likely to confront a practitioner in this area. The lecture topics are set out in the Lecture Outline for 2015 .
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    In this course students will examine and develop an understanding of:
    • major environmental challenges facing Australia and the international community
    •  basic principles underlying international environmental law, particularly the concept of sustainable development;
    •  key international treaties developed to address climate change and the loss of biodiversity, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol to the Convention, and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity;
    •  common law rules for protecting the environment, in particular the inadequacies of the common law in this area;
    •  the Constitutional powers, roles, and responsibilities of the federal and state governments in the field of environmental law;
    • Commonwealth environment impact assessment procedures contained in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth);
    •  State legislative provisions for protection of the environment contained in the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA);
    • the framework of state land use planning law – the Development Act 1993 (SA);
    • Commonwealth legislative provisions for protection of biodiversity, contained in Chapter 5 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth);
    • South Australian laws protecting biodiversity through controls on the clearance of native vegetation – the Native Vegetation Act 1991 (SA); and
    • legislative measures to address climate change and greenhouse issues; and
    • South Australian law relating to water resources contained in the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (SA)
    In undertaking the course students should achieve the following course learning outcomes:

    1. To understand and appreciate the ethical dimensions of the role of lawyers, and the functioning of law and legal systems;

    2.  To be able to apply those principles to problem-solving exercises;

    3. To develop the capacity to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources and experiences;

    4. To have an awareness of the incompleteness of law and the continuous state of development of legal principles; and

    5. To develop development of critical thinking and problem solving skills

    6. To further enhance written and oral skills in the explanation of, analysis and synthesis of legal principle;

    7. To develop an ability to critically analyse and apply legislation, rules and cases in context.

    8. To develop the capacity to identify factual and legal issues.

    9. To apply excellent research skills.

    10. To develop competence in problem-based practice in the application of the law

    11. To develop the capacity to identify factual and legal issues
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-11
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-11
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1-11
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 1-11
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-11
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-11
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1-11
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-11
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no required texts in this course. Students will however need to be able to access a number of the statutes used during part of the course, in particular, Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008 (SA), Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA), Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (SA) and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). These can be found online through the various government websites. The links to these are outlined below.
    Recommended Resources


    The recommended text for the course is GM Bates, Environmental Law in Australia (8th ed., Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 2013). There are several copies held on Reserve in the Law Library. Although recommended as an excellent general text on environmental law, this is not a required text . A lecture outline and recommended reading for those wishing to explore the topics further and reading materials for each seminar will be available on line through MyUni. 


    Other references you may find useful are:

    DE Fisher, Australian Environmental Law (2nd ed, Thomson Reuters, 2010).

    Bates and Lipman, Corporate Liability for Pollution (LBC Information Services, 1998).

    Godden, Lee & Peel, Jacqueline, Environmental Law: Scientific,Policy and Regulatory dimensions, Oxford University Press, 2009

    The Australian Journals most frequently referred to in this area include:

    § Environmental & Planning Law Journal (EPLJ), Thomson Reuters

    § Local Government Law Journal (LGLJ), Thomson Reuters

    § The Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law & Policy, University of New South Wales.

    A recent publication in South Australia in the area of planning law is “Planning Law SA” which is a looseleaf service published by Presidian Legal Publications and for whom the consulting editor is an Adelaide barrister, Brian Hayes QC. This publication is basically an annotated version of the Development Act 1993 and the Development Regulations under that Act.

    There is also a looseleaf publication “Planning Law in Australia” published by Thomson Reuters ( general editor: Glen McLeod-SA State editor: Paul Leadbeter) which contains an analysis of relevant land use planning laws in all states and territories including South Australia as well as some material on laws relating to built heritage and environmental authorisation processes.

    Environmental cases decided in the State Supreme Courts, the Federal Court and the High Court are reported in the Local Government and Environment Reports of Australia (LGERA). All significant decisions of the SA Environment, Resources and Development Court (ERDC) and the SA Supreme Court (where they deal with environmental issues) can be found in the Environment and Development Law Reports published by the Law Society of South Australia although that publication appears to have ceased from the end of 2002 when all decisions of the Court began being placed on-line.
    Online Learning

    All reading lists and connections through to the listed materials and readings will be available on MyUni. Announcements during the semester will also be posted on MyUni and emailed to all students listed in the course.

    As noted above(and technology willing) it is the intention to record all lectures. If for some reason a lecture does not record and a student did not attend that lecture it will be the responsibility of the student to find someone who did attend the missed lecture if they want details and notes about what was covered at the time.
    Decisions of the SA Environment Resources and Development court are also available on-line as follows:

    § All decisions after 2003 are on the Court's web site:; and

    § Most decisions from 1997 are on Austlii:

    As noted above the Austlii site contains most legislation.


    It can be accessed through the Law Library’s website. Past experience suggests that Austlii is not always up to date with legislation. We recommend Comlaw for Commonwealth legislation and the SA website for South Australian legislation both of which are referred to above under “Required Resources”.

    Further information on the EPBC Act can be found on:

    § the Environment Australia web site:

    The NSW Environmental Defenders Office has produced a useful guide to the EPBC Act (Cth), called Planting the Seed - A Guide to Public Participation and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (2002). This costs $16-00 and is available by mail order from: This website is the site of the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders Offices and is an excellent web based resource in the environmental area with many links to other very useful sites.

    The reading materials for the seminar classes in this course have been selected carefully for their relevance. While they may at times appear formidable, every effort has been made to limit their size. The amount of reading will differ between weeks, but averages over the course of the semester to a 3 unit load. It is essential that you read the materials referred to as “essential reading” for each seminar prior to your participation in that seminar.

    The relevant environmental statutes( and others that will be referred to during the course) can be accessed from the following sites:

     For Commonwealth legislation: Comlaw: 

    For SA legislation:

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Environmental law is a large area and this course seeks to provide students with an introduction to a number of the key areas covered under the generic title of “environmental law”.The core information will be provided in the lectures. The intention with the seminars is to explore some areas in more detail through additional readings and class discussions centred around questions posed in the background materials.

    It is also considered useful to demonstrate how some of the issues dealt with in lectures may then be applied in a practical sense and accordingly a number of the seminars will examine problem scenarios and require students to address those problems given the legal and policy tools available. The problem exercises will also illustrate some of the inherent complexities of applying a mixture of law and policy measures in this area as well as the very political nature of so many of the government decisions and actions on environmental issues.
    In 2012 and 2014 we ran an Arid recovery Field trip to the northern arid part of SA the details of which are described subsequently. If there is enough interest we intend running it again in 2015. It is also proposed to do at least one site visit in the CBD to look at a site which has been the subject of dispute and debate to put some of the material dealt with on land use planning and heritage law into context. The site visit is not compulsory. It is simply offered to those interested students.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The course requires a weekly commitment of 2 hours in attending the lecture and an additional weekly commitment of 1 hour in attending the seminars. In addition to the time spent attending the lecture and seminar classes there is a requirement that students prepare for the seminars. This will require some reading time before each seminar the length of which will vary depending on the seminar. To actively and usefully participate in the seminars students will have to do reading and preparation which is additional to the material covered in the lectures.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Week 1

    Tues 3 March 2pm-4pm

    Introduction to Environmental Law,


     Week 2
     Tues 10 March 2pm-4pm

    International environmental law: Principles and Sustainable development

    Week 3
    Tues 17 March 2pm-4pm

    Environmental Law: National Perspectives
    Common Law & Constitutional Law

    Week 4
     Tues 24 March 2pm-4pm

    Commonwealth Environmental Assessment and Approval (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)

    Week 5
     Tues 31 March   2pm-4pm

    Regulating and Assessing Development:
    State Level – Part 1
    (Development Act 1993)

    Week 6-
     Tues 7  April  2pm-4pm

    Regulating and Assessing Development: State level –Part 2


    MID - SEMESTER BREAK 13 April-26 April

    Week 7  
    Tuesday 28  April  2pm-4pm

    Regulation of Activities of Environmental Significance: State level-Environment Protection Act 1993

    Week 8
     Tues 5 May  2pm-4pm

    Climate Change and Greenhouse issues

    Week 9
     Tues 12  May  2pm-4pm

    Water Resources –Law and Policy issues


    Week 10
     Tues 19 May  2pm-4pm

    Public participation in defending the environment

    Week 11
     Tues 26 May  2pm-4pm

    Conservation of Biological Diversity:
    (incl. control of native vegetation clearance, reservation of land and water areas)

    Week 12
     Tues 2  June 2pm-4pm

    Heritage issues-protection of built, natural and aboriginal heritage


    The Seminar topics  will be available mid February 2015.


    Specific Course Requirements

    It is intended to try and prepare one seminar on development issues which is based on a site within either the CBD or North Adelaide. While it will not be required or necessary to do so , students who are interested will be given directions on the location of the relevant development site should they wish to look at the site and relevant locality in their own time. I emphasise that it is not a requirement of the course that they do so.

    Field Trip

    Previous student assessments in this course suggested a field trip should be offered. In 2011, in response to those suggestions we organised a field trip to the arid recovery reserve near Roxby Downs in the northern part of South Australia. Only a small number of students attended but it was very successful. I sought  to offer the same trip again in 2012 but could not get enough interest from students. Details about the Park can be obtained from the arid recovery reserve's website: A field trip to the Arid Recovery Park and its environs can be related to what is dealt with in the course in the following ways. First, the work done in the park is evidence of the fulfilment of some of the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity which we deal with in international aspects. A component of the course also looks at the legislative and policy schemes for the protection of endangered species and the application of the EPBC Act requirements. We also deal with controls over native vegetation and the concept of reservation of public land for parks and the use of privately held land for such purposes.The presence of the Olympic dam mine and the current proposals for expansion( which at present are on hold) can be
    the basis for discussion of the EIA process which is again taught as part of the course. Further, it links in with discussions about the use by governments of Indenture legislation and the increasing tendency of the State government to use such mechanisms to avoid the application of normal land use planning controls. While there we  also looked at the planned and orderly
    township of Roxby Downs and compare it to the unplanned and  unregulated town of Andamooka, as evidence of why the regulation of land use and policy might be a good thing.
    The field trip involved staying in fairly basic hut accomodation at the Arid recovery reserve or camping( and in fact on the Wilpena pound leg on the way back to Adelaide we had one night's camping in the Flinders Ranges). I would like to discuss the idea of doing a trip again in 2014 and we provide more information at the Preliminary Orientation week lecture. There would  be a limit on the number who can participate and there would be no compulsion to do so.There is also a cost involved. The Field Trip has previously had no bearing on assessment in the course but it is fair to say that it gives a very good indication of how a number of aspects of environmental law dealt with in the course are practically applied.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment for this subject will be made up of:

    (a)An essay question of a maximum of 2,500 words length, to be submitted by 2.00 pm on Monday 27 April 2015. This assignment is worth 40% of your final mark.

    (b) A take home exam worth 50% of your final mark. The exam will be one problem question (similar to the problem questions dealt with in seminars). The exam paper will be available for collection on-line on Friday 19 June 2015 at 7.00am and must be submitted electronically by Saturday 20 June 2015 at 11.30pm.

    (c) A mark worth 10% in relation to an online quiz to be administered in Week 6.

    Extensions will only be granted on medical and compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances, and must be supported by the relevant documentation.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    While there are no specific assessment related requirements for this course students should note that failure to attend and participate in the seminars which are problem based may make it difficult for them to do the problem based exam question.
    Assessment Detail

    Assessment for this subject will be made up of:

    (a)An essay question of a maximum of 2,500 words length, to be submitted by 2.00 pm on Monday 27 April 2015. This assignment is worth 40% of your final mark.

    (b) A take home exam worth 50% of your final mark. The exam will be one problem question (similar to the problem questions dealt with in seminars). Maximum of 2,700 words length. The exam paper will be available for collection on-line on Friday 19 June 2015 at 7.00am and must be submitted electronically by Saturday 20 June 2015 at 11.30pm.

    (c) A mark worth 10% in relation to an online quiz to be administered in Week 6.

    Extensions will only be granted on medical and compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances, and must be supported by the relevant documentation.


    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    2.Both the Essay and take home problem exam question assignments must be submitted  electronically through the Turnitin portal. Details of the process for electronic submission( through MyUni ) will be provided during the early part of the semester.


    Consistent with Law School policy, the primary communication mechanism for this course will be through placing announcements on MyUni. It is essential that students regularly check the announcements page for information. It is your responsibility to check MyUni regularly to ensure you have the most recent information. Any urgent information (such as unexpected cancellation of classes due to illness) will be sent to you by email as well as placed on MyUni.


    Assignments will be returned to students via the Turnitin portal  within 4 weeks of the due date with  feedback. The essay and exam are both to be marked on an iPad.Feedback will include a mixture of written and verbal comments which will be able to be retrieved through the Turnitin portal. A marking rubric for the essay assignment( which indicates the matters the examiner will look for in the submitted essays) will be provided to all students in Week1. Students will be notified by email when assignments can be retrieved from the Turnitin portal.

    Late Submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support

    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    Practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at

  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide 2014, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.

  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.