THE HISTORY OF THE LAND AND ENVIRONMENT COURT
The Land and Environment Court 1 is a specialist court, established in 1980 according to the Land and Environment Court Act 1979. It replaced a number of planning Boards, Tribunals and the Land and Valuation Court. The Court is equivalent to the Supreme Court in the hierarchy of courts in NSW.
Before the establishment of the Court, environment and planning matters were largely governed by the Local Government Act 1919 (LGA) which contained rudimentary provisions for town planning. In 1945 town and country planning amendments were first introduced in NSW (part XIIA to the LGA). These amendments were modelled on earlier British enactments, in particular the 1932 Town and Country Planning Act.
In 1974 with the enactment of the New South Wales Planning and Environment Commission Act, it was perceived there was a need to integrate land use planning and environmental assessment and appraisal. In 1976 a further attempt to achieve such integration was made with an Environmental Planning Bill however this was never introduced.
These Acts established the Land and Environment Court's jurisdiction and transferred to it powers exercisable in the Equity division of the Supreme Court. The new legislation transferred powers to the Land and Environment Court, which were formerly exercised by the Equity division of the Supreme Court. These powers related to enforcement by way of the injunctions of rights, obligations and duties imposed by planning or environmental law, and the power to make declarations in relation to such rights, obligations and duties.
"Diamond Jim" McLelland was appointed the first Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court. When asked how he saw his role, he said
Land and Environment Court
Dated viewed 27 November 2002
Author: NSW Atorney-Gerneral's Department