Climate Futures

Climate Futures

Climate Change and Coastal Communities: Law and Governance Issues

Climate change is causing sea-level rise and is expected to increase coastal hazards such as erosion, extreme storm events and inundation. Future predictions of sea-level rise have created a need to assess the future risk and liabilities related to complex issues surrounding public amenity, intergenerational equity, private property rights, environmental and conservation decisions, aboriginal cultural heritage rights and marine parks. The responsibility for coastal protection is generally shared between State and local governments, which both face complex legal implications of climate change mitigation and adaptation options.

This Public Forum is open to industry, scientists, planners, environmental managers and decision-makers, and will present four different perspectives of the current law and governance issues surrounding climate change and our coastal communities.


Claire Smith
Clayton Utz

Recent Changes to Coastal Protection Law

Australia is predominantly a coastal society with approximately 85% of its population living in the coastal region.  Coastal protection legislation in NSW is not new and state and local governments have been balancing competing environmental, social and economic issues associated with coastal development and coastal protection for some time.  However, recent legal challenges and climate change predictions about sea level rise and increased frequency and intensity of storm events has led the NSW Government to re-examine and update its legislative and policy framework. In this presentation, Claire Smith will give an overview of recent policy developments in NSW and key amendments to the Coastal Protection Act 1979 (NSW) which commenced on 1 January 2011 including a discussion of new institutional arrangements and powers of coastal authorities, coastal zone management plans and emergency coastal protection works.


Karen Coleman
Mallesons Stephen Jaques

Coastal Protection - Current Litigation Issues

To date, Karen Coleman has had the carriage of six pieces of litigation in Australia concerning various aspects of coastal protection. Four of those remain before the  courts. In this presentation, Karen will use those matters  to illustrate the type of issues that can give rise to litigation in the area of coastal protection.

Karen Coleman is a litigation partner with Mallesons Stephen Jaques and one of the leading litigation lawyers in Australia in relation to coastal protection issues.  Karen represents a number of the residents at Belongil Beach who are opposed to the Council's policy of "planned retreat" at Byron Shire Council.

Ilona Millar
Senior Associate
Baker McKenzie

Legal Liability of Councils Including Tortious Claims

 llona Millar is a Senior Associate with Baker & McKenzie’s Environment and Environmental Markets Practice. With a diverse range of experience in environmental law and environmental policy, Ilona has acted for a wide range of private and public sector clients and advises on the legal aspects of international and domestic climate change policy, carbon markets and emissions trading.  In recent years Ilona has been involved in a number of projects related to climate change impacts and adaptation, including advising local governments on legal risks and liability associated with sea level rise. 

Prior to joining Baker & McKenzie in May 2008, Ilona worked for the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development in London, where she assisted the Alliance of Small Island States in international climate change negotiations and provided advice to the European Commission on legal and policy issues associated with emissions trading schemes.  

  Kirsty Ruddock
Principal Solicitor

Climate Justice Issues: Impacts on Public Land and Local and Indigenous Communities

Kirsty is the Principal Solicitor at the EDO who is responsible for their litigation and advice team. The EDO is a community legal centre that specializes in public interest environmental law and is involved in litigation, law reform and community legal education work including a recent publication "Caring for our coast on coastal law. Kirsty is involved in the climate litigation work of the EDO which included Walker v Minister for Planning a decision in focused on climate change flood impacts on our coast, and recent litigation against the Ulan mine the first NSW case to seek climate offset for greenhouse gas emissions from coal mining.


When: Thursday 15th Sept 2011
Time: 5.00-7.00pm
Where: Clayton Utz, 15/1 Bligh Street, Sydney
RSVP: 9th September 2011
Registration is essential

For more information contact

Leigh Staas
Phone: 02 99506297

Refreshments will be provided


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