In Sydney, you will find the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. This court was established as a superior court in 1980 with sole jurisdiction over environmental matters. Its role is to oversee both civil and criminal cases. At its time of establishment, it was the first specialist environmental superior court found in the world.
Role Of The NSW Land And Environment Court
A specialist court, the Land and Environment Court, is set up in Sydney to deal with things like development approvals, prosecutions relating to environmental offences, compulsory purchase compensation, and matters related to planning and land usage. This court has been set up as part of the NSW court system and has equal standing with the NSW Supreme court. The Land and Environment Court can deal with civil enforcement and undertake judicial reviews of decisions relating to planning and environmental laws. At the same time, criminal proceedings can be heard relating to offences against planning, mining and environmental laws. This court has the power to make decisions concerning some NSW native title claims.
The Land and Environment Court hears matters listed as being within its jurisdiction. They hear:
1. Any appeals relating to council development application decisions.
2. Building Application Decisions, they can grant or refuse the development.
3. Local council orders and notices
4. Any appeals against land valuations that come to the Valuer General’s office.
5. Cases relating to compensation to owners when the NSW Government acquire land for development.
6. Crimes relating to the environment, for example, pollution offences.
7. Appeals from those found guilty in a local court of environmental offences.
The land and environment court jurisdiction cases come under the NSW Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the NSW Protection of the Environment Act 1997and the 1993 Local Government Act. The Land and Environment Court jurisdiction is divided into eight classes, and different actions apply to each class.
Class 1 – Planning and Protection appeals relating to the environment.
This class hears appeals with regards to environmental approval and consents. If a local court refuses a grant for development, they could table it as an appeal under class 1.
Class 2 – Disputes over trees and other miscellaneous appeals.
This class hears any issues that arise relating to the Local Government Act of 1993, along with disputes that arise relating to trees. These are heard concerning the Tree Act 2006, which refers to disputes between neighbours.
Class 3 – Cases Relating to compensation, valuation and aboriginal land claims.
This class includes any claims or appeals against claims for compulsory acquisition of land. It also hears and makes determinations where Aboriginal claims are made over the land.
Class 4 – Legal reviews and civil enforcement.
The court can review decisions made about development consent and any environmental approvals that have been given.
Class 5 – Criminal Proceedings
This class, includes any environmental law offences or prosecutions concerning planning.
6th and 7th Class – Criminal Appeals
These appeals are against conviction or sentencing with regards to any environmental or planning offences that a local court has already imposed.
Class 8 – Mining Matters
This class looks at any things that arise about mining matters. They are considered concerning the Mining Act of 1992 or the Petroleum Act 1992 (Onshore Act)
Depending on the type of case, it may be heard by the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal or the New South Wales Court of Appeal. Both of these Courts are divisions of the New South Wales Supreme Court. If the environmental dispute arises under Commonwealth laws, then it is heard by the Australian Federal Court.
Essential Things To Know.
If you are considering challenging a decision or taking action in the Land and Environment Court, you need to be aware that there is quite a limited time limit. Time limits are enforced strictly.
There are two types of appeals.
A. A Merit appeal – this is an appeal that covers a situation where someone is unhappy with a decision. The court looks at the request on merit, considering the merit of the determination.
B. A Judicial appeal or Judicial review – This appeal is argued that there was an error of law in the original case, and thus a judicial review is required.
A case relating to any environmental or planning laws is heard in the Sydney/NSW Land and Environment Court. The NSW Land and Environment Court is an expert court set up to deal with specific legal problems arising under planning, environmental, aboriginal land and mining laws. This court covers several environmental and land issues, including planning, pollution, mining and land usage. It is worth seeking support from a lawyer who works in the area of environmental and planning law.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How likely is success in the Environmental court?
Quite a few cases are resolved through an agreement which can mean a successful outcome for all involved. If you have an environmental or land concern that you believe needs to go to court, seeking a lawyer who works in the field is advisable.