LAW 2511 - Environmental Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2017

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 2
    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.

  • 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 –at the time of writing - the Development Act 1993 (SA) and its replacement, Development, Planning and Infrastructure Act, 2016
    • 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)
     Students who complete this course should :

    1. Understand the breadth of Environmental Law,the influence of international law,  the complexity of state and federal government relationships in the environmental area and the role that policy mechanisms play in the regulation of the environment.

    2. Have the capacity to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources and experiences.

    3.Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments for a legal and professional audience.

    4. Have an ability to critically analyse and apply legislation, rules and cases in the context of problem resolution.

    5. Be able to independently undertake self-directed legal research at a high level, including through the use of online technologies.

    6. Demonstrate good inter-personal and communication skills in both written and oral communication, working independently and as a member of a team.

    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    In 2017, students will be required to have access to Dr Gerry Bate's book, Environmental law in Australia, Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 8th edition, 2013.Students will also 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.
    There will be some readings and materials and links to particular readings and sites provided for each week on MyUni.
    Recommended Resources


    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  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”.Prior to 2017 this course was taught in the format of one large 2 hour lecture each week and smaller weekly 1 hour tutorial groups. In 2017 the format has changed to a 3 hourly class once a week. That class will be comprised of a mixture of lecture, tutorial and small group discussion.The core information will be provided in two ways; some in the lecture period each week and some via precorded material available on MY Uni. Students will be expected to have either read or listened to the core material requirements prior to the weekly class. Failure to have done so will make it very difficult for those students to effectively participate in the seminar/tutorial component of the weekly 3 hour class. The intention with the seminar/tutorial component of the class 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 & 2015 we ran an Arid recovery Field trip to the northern arid part of SA during the mid semester break. That informal trip has been replaced by a new elective, Biodiversity ,Planning and Regional Study tour which we run during Winter School in July 2016. 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 3 hours in attending the combined lecture and seminar/tutorial class. In addition to the time spent attending the lecture/classes there is a requirement that students prepare for those classes. This will require some reading time before each weekly class, the length of which will vary depending on the class. To actively and usefully participate in the classes and to get the most from them students will be expected to do the allocated reading and preparation. 
    Learning Activities Summary

    Lecture Timetable

    Week 1

    Introduction to Environmental Law- Social and Legal context

    Week 2

    International environmental law: Principles and Sustainable development

    Week 3

    Environmental Law: National Perspectives

    Common Law & Constitutional Law

    Week 4

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

    Week 5

    Regulating and Assessing Development: State Level – Part 1 

    Week 6

    Regulating and Assessing Development: State level –Part 2


    Week 7 

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

    Week 8

    Climate Change and Energy issues

    Week 9

    Water Resources –Law and Policy issues

    Week 10

    Protection of Biological Diversity( including native vegetation clearance controls,reservation of land/water and threatened species controls) 

    Week 11

    Protection of Heritage: (incl. built heritage, cultural heritage and Aboriginal heritage)

    Week 12

    Defending the Environment- the role of the courts and litigation

    Specific Course Requirements
    Students must attend 10 out of the 12 weekly classes in order to pass this course.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    At the commencement of the Course at the beginning of Semester 2 students will be allocated to a group consisting of 6-8 members. They will be expected to work in those groups each week when group work is required. One assessment task will involve a group exercise.
  • 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

    Task name

    Due Date


    % of final mark

    Individual or group


    Learning Outcome

     Essay maximum 2,500 words

     Monday 11 September 2017 at 2pm





     Take-Home Problem exam

     Available for collection on-line at 7am on Monday 30 October 2017 and must be submitted electronically by 11.30pm on Tuesday 31 October 2017





     Group Exercise

     Groups will be allocated at the start of the semester. The week when they must present their project will be allocated in the first weekly class of Semester 2.





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

    Assessment Related Requirements
    All students must attempt all components of the Assessment for this course. In addition they must also complete an online multiple choice quiz relating to questions regarding the first 6 weeks of the course. The quiz is not graded. Students may have as many attempts at the quiz as they wish. A student will be deemed to have satisfactorily completed the quiz once they have correctly answered 70% of the quiz questions.
    Assessment Detail
    a) Essay question is to be 2,500 words with a 35% weighting on your total grade. Due date is 2pm Monday 11 September 2017.Not redeemable.

    b) Take Home Exam - The exam will be one problem question (similar to the problem questions dealt with in seminars). The word length is 2,700 words and the weighting is 40%.The exam will be available on line from 7am on Monday 30 October 2017 and must be submitted electronically by11.30pm on Tuesday 31 October 2017.Not redeemable.

    c) Group Assignment (weighting is 25%)- the group is required to prepare a 15 minute presentation on a current environmental law issue and present that in the weekly class.Groups can choose their method of presentation. For example they may wish to use a traditiional powerpoint or create a short video clip. It is meant to be both informative and innovative in the conveyance of its message.Suggested topics and more detailed information on the expectations as well as the timetable for the weekly presentations will be finalised at the first weekly class in semester 2.

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

    Presentation of assignments
    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.

    Return of Assignments and Feedback
    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.

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

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible  moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment  results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is  required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Acess Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • 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.

    The centre offers 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  

    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

    Counselling Service

    The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available 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, 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.