I ask myself: What would I want if I was a client? Then I deliver.

Nicholas in 60 seconds

Nicholas is one of Australia's leading environmental lawyers. He is a trusted adviser to his clients in all areas of land use and development, planning, valuation and compulsory acquisition, environmental, mining and natural resources law.

In addition to degrees in law and geography, Nicholas has a PhD in planning and environmental law from the University of Sydney. His expertise is recognised by his appointment to the Board of Water NSW, the advisory Board of the Macquarie University Centre for Environmental Law, and the Advisory Board of Australian Centre for Climate Change and Environment Law at the University of Sydney. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Property Institute, lectures at the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales and has over 30 peer reviewed publications on a wide range of topics in environmental, planning and valuation law and environmental economics.

Nicholas's clients include a large number of government agencies along with major financial institutions, mining and construction companies, property developers and fund managers.

He has extensive experience in all forms of planning and environmental litigation in the Land and Environment Court and Court of Appeal. In particular, he is a recognised leading practitioner in all aspects of valuation and compensation law and acts for a wide range of State Government agencies and landowners, including acting in over 100 compensation and valuation cases in the Land and Environment Court and Court of Appeal.


  • Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Laws
    Doctor of Philosophy
    Fellow Australian Property Institute

Independent Recognition

  • Listed as a leading environment lawyer in Chambers Asia-Pacific, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012
  • Listed as an expert in Planning and Environmental Law in Best Lawyers since 2009
  • Listed as a leading lawyer in Planning & Environment (Sydney) in Doyle's Guide to the Australian Legal Profession

Industry associations

  • Director Water NSW
  • Fellow Australian Property Institute
  • Member, International Bar Association
  • Member, Environmental and Planning Law Association of NSW
  • Member, National Environmental Law Association

Nicholas's Recent Experience

Roads and Maritime Services

Acting for RMS in several land acquisition matters for major infrastructure projects, and advising on a range of environmental and planning issues.

E.J Cooper & Son

Advising one of the largest property developers in NSW on the redevelopment of land for the purposes of 4100 homes in north west Sydney including advising on rezoning, voluntary planning agreements, subdivision and private supply of recycled water and sewerage.


Advising on the redevelopment of 201 Elizabeth Street, involving a conversion of an office building into a residential tower.

Breen Property Pty Ltd

Acting for Breen, the owner and developer of a significant parcel of prime ocean-front land in a southern suburb of Sydney. This major project has involved extensive negotiations at State and local government level to secure a rezoning and development approval for a $250m residential project.

Nicholas's Recent Insights

Planning reforms may limit local council windfalls through VPAs

  • 11 Nov 2016

Proposed reforms by the NSW Minister for Planning are poised to prevent local councils from gaining funding windfalls through the negotiation of Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs).BackgroundA new...

Landmark reforms for compulsory acquisition of land

  • 19 Oct 2016

On 18 October 2016, the NSW Government announced landmark reforms to the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (Just Terms Act).The Just Terms Act governs the process by which land ca...

No stamp duty compensation for passive investors

  • 11 Oct 2016

A recent decision by the Land and Environment Court has clarified that stamp duty costs are not compensable where the acquisition of property has not resulted in relocation, or where the acquired p...

Hidden costs and underlying zoning issues with compulsory acquisition

  • 29 Jul 2016

29 July 2016The recent case of Constantine v Blacktown City Council (No 2) [2016] NSWLEC 81 is the first to consider whether the costs of non-valuation expert reports are compensable under s59...