Gabrielle Guthrie

Gabrielle Guthrie

Abstract | 2017 Reform of native vegetation laws in VIC and NSW: Legal update for linear infrastructure

In 2017, there were some major changes to native vegetation protection laws in both NSW and VIC. In NSW, those changes comprised the introduction, in August 2017, of a new Land Management Framework, which saw the repeal of the Native Vegetation Act 2013 on 25 August 2017, as well as the repeal of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the replacement of those regimes with a new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016; new provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 and a new State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP).

In Victoria, the key change in December 2017 was to the Victoria Planning Provisions of the planning schemes following the introduction of Amendment VC138. Linear infrastructure, be it essential services or transport, is affected by the 2017 changes to the native vegetation and biodiversity conservation regulation in the context of both new development (construction) and works in easements and corridors on existing infrastructure (operations).

Rather than simplifying a regime, my experience is that the 2017 reform, particularly in NSW, has created added complexity for infrastructure developers, owners and managers, and their contractors.

The problem

Keeping abreast of regulatory changes can be challenging. In this presentation, I will share my legal perspective in advising on linear infrastructure projects, by giving a brief update of the legal changes in NSW and VIC to provide a contextual background of the legal regime in which construction and operational works occur.

Lessons to apply in projects

I will explore a hypothetical scenario concerning regrowth clearing around operational linear infrastructure in NSW and VIC to contrast the difference in approaches between jurisdictions. Considerations for future projects The presentation will give a high-level overview of the legal framework that can be applied by delegates in their projects and will also explore new considerations and approaches that might be needed in future projects.

Bio | Gabrielle Guthrie

Gabrielle is a specialist environment and planning lawyer with 10+ years’ experience in environment and planning law. Gabrielle helps clients across Australia by providing accessible legal services and pragmatic advice. She advises clients in a range of industry sectors including corporations, government and NGOs and has particular expertise in advising on linear infrastructure, including advising essential services asset owners and managers, service providers and environmental consultants.

Gabrielle has an undergraduate degree in Geoscience and a strong understanding of technical environmental issues. Her expertise is broad and includes advising on operational compliance and regulatory enforcement; major development projects and contentious matters such as merits and judicial review and civil claims. Importantly for an environmental lawyer,

Gabrielle also has an in-depth of understanding of public interest environmental law and the importance of public and stakeholder engagement, from her work advising community and environmental groups at the Environment Defenders Office in Victoria and in the Northern Territory at EDO NT.