Environmental regulation | Henry Davis York - Henry Davis York

Environmental regulation

Spacer Panel

Environmental regulation is continuing to increase in Australia, along with public interest in the environmental performance of business and government. Organisations operating within this complex regulatory environment need a full understanding of the current regulatory regime, and advice that enables them to anticipate regulatory changes before they occur.

An upward trend in the number of actions being brought in relation to breaches of environmental regulation is likely in light of current criticism of regulators’ reluctance to exercise their enforcement powers. Do you have a complete understanding of your environmental obligations, and the right advice to navigate change and issues should they arise?

How we can help

HDY’s extensive experience in this area means we are best placed to advise our clients on the regulatory requirements surrounding noise, water and air pollution, contaminated land, waste regulation, vegetation management, and heritage matters. We are constantly in touch with regulators, and help our clients to be forearmed and forewarned about coming regulatory change to minimise the impact on their day-to-day operations.

The environment team at HDY is well known to regulators, and well versed in negotiating with them on behalf of our clients. We are known for our understanding of their roles and responsibilities in protecting Australia’s environment, as well as the best way for our clients to engage with them. We can demystify the process and ensure clients' rights and entitlements are fully considered throughout an engagement with them.

Our core expertise includes:

  • Negotiating outcomes with environmental regulators.
  • Assisting to manage reputational risk throughout investigation and / or prosecution of environmental incidents.
  • Developing environmental management systems that allow our clients to effectively manage their environmental responsibilities and quickly respond to environmental incidents should they arise.
  • Assisting to implement environmental incident management plans and reporting procedures
  • Developing and conducting training on how to handle such matters across organisations, including when and how to report to the regulator.

Whether clients are buying or selling a parcel of contaminated land, involved in a dispute with the regulator, or simply looking for advice about how to best manage the environmental impacts of their activities, our team has the knowledge, skills and relationships to navigate clients throughout the process. We can provide immediate and ongoing assistance to ensure environmental liability and reputation is managed early and effectively. We regularly advise our clients on appearing in interviews with personnel from the EPA and other environmental regulators, including the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and environmental officers within local councils.

New whistle-blower obligations for site auditors - New guidelines released by the EPA impose additional obligations on site auditors. These changes signal a shift in the auditor's role – they will now play a more active role in notifying the EPA during the audit process. Read our update to find out more about how this affects audits now and into the future.

Panel appointments

HDY is currently represented on the following government panels for environmental matters:

  • Whole of New South Wales government
  • Transport for New South Wales (including Sydney Trains, Roads and Maritime Service)
  • City of Sydney Council

Our Relevant Experience

  • Poultry processor

    Acting for a large Australian poultry processor to respond to a number of investigations by the environmental regulator including air pollution, maintenance of plant and equipment and water pollution. We were able to assist the client respond to difficult investigation requirements, help them to understand their legal obligations in investigations, and worked closely with them to ensure they put their best foot forward in the investigations to obtain the best possible outcomes within the range of regulatory possibilities.

  • European owned medical products manufacturer

    Representing the company throughout the initial incident management investigation and subsequent prosecution in the Land & Environment Court. We were able to secure a penalty that was at the lowest end of the scale applicable to the relevant offence.

  • New South Wales Government Authority

    Acting for a New South Wales government agency in relation to the investigation of clearing of native vegetation which was listed both under the New South Wales threatened species legislation and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. We conducted all negotiations with the environmental regulator and were able to assist our client to achieve a successful outcome, outside of the Court process.

Our publications

Further information

HDY’s environment group holds quarterly lunchtime seminars covering the full range of environmental issues, with a focus on environmental prosecutions, managing environmental incidents and dealing with regulators. We also regularly publish newsletters which aim to provide insights to our clients on these issues. Register your interest by emailing events@hdy.com.au.

Elizabeth Wild


61 402 890 655

61 2 9947 6610


Nicholas Brunton


61 408 669 831

61 2 9947 6330


Anneliese Korber

Special Counsel

61 2 9947 6546


Sarah Mansfield

Senior Associate

61 416 181 173

61 2 9947 6607