Introduction: Environmental law

Environmental laws aim to protect human health and the natural environment in the context of land use planning and resource management.

Environmental laws include legislation dealing with land use planning, pollution control, protection of nature, the reservation and protection of public land, the management of natural resources, climate change, and environmental impact assessment.

State governments are responsible for most of this legislation. However, there is also important Commonwealth Government legislation that is relevant in some circumstances. Local government decision-makers play an important part in administering some environmental laws.

This chapter covers the laws that provide for public involvement in decision-making and the enforcement of:

land use planning laws;

environmental impact assessment; and

pollution control laws.

There are many other environmental laws about mining, forestry, heritage, coastal protection and waterways. For sources of information about these, seeMore information”.

At the time of writing (30 June 2018), reform of certain Victorian environmental statutes is underway. Bills to reform the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) (which is Victoria’s principal pollution-control law) and to reform the nature protection provisions in the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Vic) are currently before the Victorian Parliament.

Protecting the environment often requires people to use other areas of the law, such as freedom of information, administrative law, corporations law, or consumer laws. For more information about these, see Neighbour disputes, Appealing government and administrative decisions, and Freedom of information law.