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Planning or environmental laws impose various obligations on people to do something or not to do something. Mostly, the laws impose these obligations directly. Other times, the laws give power to government authorities to issue orders which impose the obligations.
Planning or environmental laws impose various obligations on people in relation to what activities can and cannot be carried out on land or buildings on land. Generally, these obligations are that people not carry out a certain activity, not carry out an activity in a certain way, or not carry out an activity with a certain consequence such as causing environmental harm of some kind.
If people wish to be relieved of these obligations, they may be able to apply for some form of statutory approval authorising the activity. If the person obtains statutory approval, the person will be under an obligation to carry out the activity in accordance with the approval. A failure to comply with any of these obligations is a breach of the statute imposing the obligation and a criminal offence.
Planning or environmental laws may also give power to local and State government authorities to issue administrative orders to persons to do or to stop doing something on land. Examples of administrative orders are:
environmental protection notices under Chapter 4 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to clean up pollution, prevent activities being carried out in an environmentally unsatisfactory manner, or prohibit an activity causing harm to the environment or public health
These administrative orders have the force of law. They impose a statutory obligation to do or to stop doing the thing specified by the order. A failure to comply with the order is a breach of the statute under which the order is made and a criminal offence.
Civil proceedings in Class 4 of the Court’s jurisdiction may be brought to restrain and to remedy breaches of the statutes caused by a failure to comply with obligations imposed by the statute or an administrative order issued under the statute. Criminal proceedings in Class 5 of the Court’s jurisdiction may be brought to prosecute offences.
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In NSW, there are a number of places where you can get specialised legal advice on the sorts of legal problems heard by the Land and Environment Court. Find out where to get legal advice and information.
08 May 2023
We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and we pay respect to the Elders, past, present and future.