The Land and Environment Court was established on 1 September 1980 by the Land and Environment Court Act 1979 (NSW) as a superior court of record.
There was a desire to create a specialised 'one stop shop' for environmental, planning and land matters.
Prior to the establishment of the Land and Environment Court, planning and land matters were dealt with by a range of different tribunals and courts. There was no environmental law as it is now known.
Valuation, compulsory acquisition and land matters were dealt with by a Land and Valuation Court, Valuation Boards of Review and the Supreme Court (for title issues). Building, subdivision and development matters were dealt with by the Local Government Appeals Tribunal. Civil (equitable) enforcement and judicial review of both government and tribunal decisions were undertaken by the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Criminal enforcement was undertaken in the Local Court and the District Court of New South Wales.
Parliament gave the Land and Environment Court jurisdiction to deal with all of the matters formerly dealt by these courts and tribunals. The court was given a wide jurisdiction in relation to environmental, planning and land matters. The jurisdiction was made exclusive; no other court or tribunal could exercise the jurisdiction given to the Land and Environment Court.