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Planning and Development Law

Planning and Development Law


A city is deemed to be sustainable, only when the influx of material and energy sources, and disposal of wastes do not surpass the city’s environmental capacity. Thus, urban consumption should not exceed what is provided by forests, soils, oceans and other components of the natural environment. In addition, the consequential pollutants should not subsume the capacity of the environment to deliver resources to the ecosystem[ CITATION Sci15 l 1033 ].

An instance of this is provided by the fact that economic productivity depends upon healthy and happy citizens who require easy access to clean air, education, electricity, food, healthcare, transport and water. This can be realised if cities develop effective waste disposal mechanisms, green spaces and buildings, and public transport, and attract employers generating environment friendly products from local resources for regional markets. In this scenario, the lifestyle and activities of the urban dwellers is significant[ CITATION Sci15 l 1033 ]. In addition, cities have to diminish the consumption of resources, reduce waste production footprints, and improve land use efficiencies, so as to minimise the adverse environmental effects.

Sustainable Development

Development that addresses contemporary requirements without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs is termed sustainable development. The present day population growth and urban development trends have exacerbated the challenges being envisaged by communities, as well as the burdens upon natural and built environments. The natural environment furnishes several advantages that cannot be replicated or which would prove to be very expensive for humans to reproduce. In this context, the Australian Government has adopted a wide range of policies and programmes to help Local, Territorial and State Governments, and the community and businesses to enhance the sustainability of cities by minimising environmental impacts[CITATION Com111 l 1033 ].

Environmental Legislation

The Commonwealth Parliament, in 1974, had enacted the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 (Cth). This had been aimed at ensuring that any proposal that had the possibility of affecting the environment significantly had to be evaluated prior to being granted approval under federal law. In contemporary Australia, sustainable development has emerged as a legal concept, and it is central to a number of environmental, planning and resource Acts in Australia[ CITATION Bar072 l 1033 ].

An instance, is the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA). This Act endeavours to promote the sustainable development and use of land in the State. Moreover, the State planning policies adopted under the Planning and Development (P&D) Act 2005 and planning strategies are crucially important for the overall system of planning development control in Western Australia (WA). The more important instances of this being the SPP 3, Urban Growth and Settlement; the Liveable Neighbourhoods — WA Government Sustainable Cities Initiative (WAPC draft Oct 2004); and Network Cities; A Community Strategy for Perth and Peel (WAPC October 2004). These had been developed from the perspective of State Sustainability Strategy[ CITATION Bar072 l 1033 ].

Western Australia — Sustainability

The P&D Act is the enabling legislation for the majority of the tasks of the Western Australia Planning Commission, Department of Planning and Local Governments, vis-a-vis progressive planning and development for WA. It has become effective from 9 April 2006, and is comprised of the Town Planning and Development Act 1928, Metropolitan Region Town Planning Scheme Act 1959, and Western Australian Planning Commission Act 1985[ CITATION Wes145 l 1033 ].


Responsibility for the development and implementation of policies and practices pertaining to environmental management have been vested with the Department of Environmental Regulation. These policies and practices are aimed at realising sustainable outcomes. A major function of this department is to improve awareness, furnish advice and support sustainable practices in the government, industry and community sectors[ CITATION Gov l 1033 ].

Moreover, in the year 2002, Western Australia attached considerable importance to the issue of sustainability assessment. This was the outcome of the publication of the draft Western Australian State Sustainability Strategy. The objective of this strategy was to provide a context for sustainability for Western Australia. It encompassed several regions, issues, communities and projects. In addition, it had acknowledged the presence of tensions between social, environmental and economic goals and had endeavoured to resolve them via mutually beneficial means[CITATION Dal14 p 338 l 1033 ].

Furthermore, this strategy had incorporated commitments that the government would carry out sustainable evaluations of intricate and strategic projects. In addition, it had required commitment from the government that the latter’s agencies would apply sustainable evaluation while taking internal decisions[CITATION Dal14 p 338 l 1033 ]. Several challenges have emerged from sustainability assessment, and Jenkins et al. had provided an integrated procedure that the state government could adopt. This would entail the least change to the extant legislation and administrative entities[CITATION Dal14 p 339 l 1033 ]. As such, the strategy had put forth the proposition that evaluation should transit from reducing impacts to promoting positive outcome in an integrated manner.

In Drake-Brockman v Minister for Planning, the New South Wales Land and Environment Court rescinded a judicial review challenge to the approval granted by the Minister of Planning for a concept plan. This plan had been for a large urban development on the erstwhile Carlton United Breweries’ site in Sydney. This Court did not countenance the applicant’s submission that the consideration of the principles of ecologically sustainable development by the Minister had been inadequate[ CITATION Dra07 l 1033 ]. In fact, the Minister had made a careful and well thought out consideration of the relevant principles.

In Chapple v EPA & Ors, the Supreme Court examined the Environmental Protection Act, which permits the evaluation of proposals that upon being implemented have the likelihood of producing a significant effect upon the environment. The Court held that management plans that constitute nothing more than recommendations for future land use, instead of actual determinations of land use, cannot be assessed by the Environmental Protection Act[ CITATION Env95 l 1033 ].


As such, the Environmental Protection Act impose limits on the powers of the Environment Protection Authority with regard to the issues of environment assessment of plans granted by the concerned entities or departments. The above discussed case law establishes this contention. The Australian courts have taken cognisance of adverse effects of environment assessment, arising from the implementation of such plans. According to the above discussion and case law, it can be surmised that Western Australia has adopted sustainability strategy and legislation, so as to ensure sustainable growth in the country.

List of References

Barker, M. (2007). How Planning and Environmental Law Has Shaped Our Cities. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from PIA National Congress:

Commonwealth of Australia. (2011). Australian Government Initiatives in Cities. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from Australian Government Budget 2011-12:

Dalal-Clayton, B., & Sadler, B. (2014). Sustainability Appraisal: A Sourcebook and Reference Guide to International Experience. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Drake-Brockman v Minister for Planning, NSWLEC 490 (New South Wales Land and Environment Court August 13, 2007).

Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act (Cth). (1974). Canberra, Australian Commonwealth Territory: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Environmental Protection Authority; ex parte Chapple, 89 LGERA 310 (Supreme Court of Western Australia 1995).

Government of Western Australia. (n.d.). Sustainability. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from Department of Environmental Regulation:

Science for Environment Policy. (2015). Indicators for sustainable cities. In-depth Report 12. Produced for the European Commission DG Environment. Bristol, UK: Science Communication Unit, University of West of England.

Western Australian Planning Commission. (2014, February). Introduction to the Western Australian Planning Commission. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from The Government of Western Australia Department of Planning: