LAWS19038 - Planning & Environment Law
Term 1 - 2017

All details in this unit profile for LAWS19038 have been officially approved by CQUniversity and represent a learning partnership between the University and you (our student). The information will not be changed unless absolutely necessary and any change will be clearly indicated by an approved correction included in the profile.


The unit examines contemporary planning and environment law in Australia's federal legal system, as increasingly integrated and subordinated to the ultimate objective and constraint of ecologically sustainable development, with a focus on the Queensland experience as exemplar. There are three main themes: the system of planning and environmental regulation - urban, regional and natural resources - across three tiers of government; regulatory administration and decision-making processes; enforcement, property rights and dispute resolution.


Career Level Undergraduate
Unit Level Level 2
Credit Points 6
Student Contribution Band 3
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load 0.125

Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

Prerequisite LAWS11030 or LAWS19031 or LAWS11054

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).


Term 1 - 2017
  • Distance


This unit has a website, within the Moodle system, which is available two weeks before the start of term. It is important that you visit your Moodle site throughout the term. Go to Moodle

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Undergraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Class Timetable

Assessment Overview

Assessment Task Weighting
1. Written Assessment 50%
2. Written Assessment 50%

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%). Consult the University’s Grades and Results Procedures for more details of interim results and final grades.

All University policies are available on the IMPortal.

You may wish to view these policies:

  • Grades and Results Procedure
  • Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework)
  • Review of Grade Procedure
  • Academic Misconduct Procedure
  • Monitoring Academic Progress (MAP) Policy and Procedure – Domestic Students
  • Monitoring Academic Progress (MAP) Policy and Procedure – International Students
  • Refund and Excess Payments (Credit Balances) Policy and Procedure
  • Student Feedback – Compliments and Complaints Policy and Procedure
  • Acceptable Use of Information and Communications Technology Facilities and Devices Policy and Procedure

This list is not an exhaustive list of all University policies. The full list of University policies are available on the IMPortal.

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Feedback Source Recommendation
Positive comments on the content, delivery and assessment regime of this course Student feedback Continue with the general format of this course, including an increasing emphasis on issues associated with industry practice
Interaction with students and between students using UCROO Student feedback and self-evaluation Continue using UCROO as the primary means of online discussion with students and between students
The text ‘Environmental Law in Australia’ by Gerry Bates Student feedback and self-evaluation Continue using the text ‘Environmental Law in Australia’ by Gerry Bates as the prescribed text for LAWS19038. The text, while excellent, is nevertheless theoretically based. As a result, continue to supplement the theoretical material with practical work and access to up-to-date online materials, including legislation, caselaw, practice directions and court files.
On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
  1. apply a good knowledge and understanding of planning and environment law principles and processes in Australia;
  2. describe and critically appraise the systems of state, local government planning in operation and specific planning polices and instruments;
  3. outline, describe and apply the major environmental measures adopted at state and commonwealth level, and demonstrate an awareness of their increasingly complex interaction with planning law and processes;
  4. articulate the administrative regimes underpinning planning and environment law including decision-making processes, and the rights of key stakeholders to have such outcomes reviewed either through litigation or alternate means of dispute resolution; and
  5. undertake competent legal research to identify case law, legislation, policies and procedures relevant to a particular issue or practical problem, and present such findings in well-argued written form or oral presentation.

Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes

  • Introductory Level
  • Intermediate Level
  • Graduate Level
Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4 5
1. Communication  
2. Problem Solving
3. Critical Thinking
4. Information Literacy
5. Team Work          
6. Information Technology Competence
7. Cross Cultural Competence          
8. Ethical practice      

Prescribed Textbooks

Environmental Law in Australia
Author/s: Bates, Gerry Year: 2016
Edition: 9th edition Publisher: LexisNexis Butterworths
City: Sydney State: New South Wales
Country: Australia
View textbooks at the CQUniversity Bookshop

Please note the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 can be downloaded from the Queensland legislation website or the AUSTLII website.

IT Resources

You will need access to the following IT resources:
  • CQUniversity Student Email
  • Internet
  • Unit Website (Moodle)
All submissions for this unit must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 3rd ed referencing style (details can be obtained here). For further information, see the Assessment Tasks below.
Unit CoordinatorJohn Milburn (
Note: Check the Term-Specific section for any additional contact information provided by the teaching team
Week Begin Date Module/Topic Chapter Events and Submissions
Week 1 06-03-2017

Principles of Planning and Environmental Law

Bates chapter 1

Week 2 13-03-2017

Planning and Environmental Law in Legal Context

Bates chapter 2

Week 3 20-03-2017

Impact of the Common Law on Planning and Environment Law

Bates chapter 3

Week 4 27-03-2017

International Environmental Law and Federal Governance

Bates chapters 4, 5 & 6

Week 5 03-04-2017

Statutory Instruments, Regulatory Tools and Ecologically Sustainable Development

Bates chapters 7 & 8

Vacation Week 10-04-2017
Week 6 17-04-2017

Planning Law Principles and Assessments

Bates chapters 9 & 10

Week 7 24-04-2017

Environmental Impact Assessment

Bates chapter 11

LAWS19038 Written Assessment #1 Due Thursday (27 Apr 17) 11:45 PM AEST
Week 8 01-05-2017

Protection of Biodiversity and Climate Change

Bates chapters 12-18

Week 9 08-05-2017

Environmental Litigation – Civil Law

Bates chapter 19

Week 10 15-05-2017

Environmental Litigation – Criminal Law

Bates chapter 20

Week 11 22-05-2017

Community Litigants and ADR Procedures

Bates chapters 21 & 22

Week 12 29-05-2017


LAWS19038 Written Assessment #2 Due Thursday (01 Jun 17) 11:45 PM AEST
Review/Exam Week 05-06-2017
Exam Week 12-06-2017

1 Written Assessment

Assessment Title LAWS19038 Written Assessment #1
Task Description

Key Aspects. Both 50% in-term assignments require students to review, or critically appraise and apply legal, planning, and environmental concepts and policies.

Fundamental Information. The first 50% assignment requires an analysis of a merits appeal decision determined by the Planning and Environment Court. I also require students to consider Commonwealth and State planning reforms and legislation.

Environmental Law is an area of practice subject to substantial change due to new legislation and new policy implementation at an executive level. Your task is to review a merits decision. The assessment is consistent with life ‘in practice’. In this assessment, you should aim to make use of recent legislation, cases and other materials, to make your work as up-to date as possible and to obtain the best possible mark. Materials on this assessment task will be available on the Moodle site for this course, to give you further support.

Please note the following details:

  • Please consider the assignment writing material that I provide in Moodle.
  • As a guideline, the length of the main body of your essay should be around 2000 words or so, excluding references - essays that are substantially longer than this (say over 2200 words) or shorter than this (say less than 1500 words) are unlikely to score as highly as those that make the best use of the 2000 word length (being on-target and making the best use of the word allocation is always better than being off-message). However, you should not worry about a few words either way (this is a guideline only, and I do not have a 'negative marking scheme' where marks are deducted if the word count is more than 10% over the guideline).
  • Text should be word-processed, with appropriate layout and use of headings/sub-headings. Please provide consistent font and line spacing as part of a professionally presented paper.
  • Diagrams and flowcharts may be used to illustrate specific aspects - a picture paints ten thousand words! (Please ensure that you correctly cite/reference all sources of diagrams used, unless they are original and composed by you, since this is an important aspect of academic integrity). Please avoid images with very large file sizes, as this will make your essay too large to upload/download (save any images as lower resolution, to decrease the file size).
  • The list of references should form the last page or two, at the end of the assessment.
  • Referencing should be consistent with the Australian Guide to Legal Resources.
Assessment Due Date Week 7 Thursday (27-Apr-2017) 11:45 PM AEST
Thursday, 27 April, 2017 11:45 PM AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). I expect student to present their assignment work on time. Please note that I will not consider any request for an extension of time unless you upload an application in the appropriate manner, supported by documentation and made prior to the due time/date. I will impose a penalty deduction of 5% per day for late work until the nominated cut-off date, Saturday, 6 May 2017.
Return Date to Students Week 9 Monday (08-May-2017)
Student satisfaction surveys in the past indicate student concerns when a course coordinator does not provide feedback in a timely manner and does not return assignments quickly. Generally, I release the feedback and marks the day after the final cut-off date (that is I provide feedback and marks 10 days after the due date).
Weighting 50%
Assessment Criteria

The two 50% in-term assignments will utilise the following assessment criteria.

Problem Solving. The focus of many parts of the assignments is upon developing applied problem and policy solving skills. This requires students to read and analyse a fact scenario matrix or policy measure - hypothetical or actual - and identify legal, regulatory and broad planning or environmental policy issues and apply these to develop a reasoned outcome with respect to the issues presented.

Critical Thinking. Students are required to critically analyse and evaluate information, facts, law and policy in a problem solving context. The skills being emphasised involve the critical appraisal and reflection of legal, planning and environmental issues plus the application of case law, legislation and policy (theoretical or actual) against a factual matrix or stated assumptions.

Information Literacy. The two assignments test understanding and comprehension of critical legal, planning and environmental knowledge, legislation and policy measures discussed in the course in topics covered prior to submission of the assignments. Students need to develop understanding and familiarity with relevant terms, concepts and issues addressed. This information literacy is tested in an applied as well as descriptive manner.

Information Technology Competence. The two assignments test students' aptitude and capability to access web-based information and resources. Competence in producing academic written work with use of technology forms part of the assignment exercises.

Ethical/sustainability policy issues and practice. In formulating responses to questions in the two assignments, students will frequently be making judgments about societal ethics and planning or environmental sustainability policy matters.

Assessment criteria

I assess students on their ability to demonstrate thinking and writing skills, to comprehend the material, to process the material and to provide a critical analysis and logical discussion of the law. Students are required to communicate an answer clearly and logically and in a concise manner. I expect you to present your paper in a professional manner. Please paginate shall paper and used correct spelling and grammar. You must appropriately reference and attribute the work of others.


You will have shown evidence of the following:

  • the written expression is poor and difficult to understand
  • the answer is poorly organised
  • referencing is generally inadequate
  • lack of familiarity with the legislation and its application
  • failure to identify and address the issues in the question
  • reasoning and application demonstrated is poor


You will have:

  • made a conscientious attempt to address the topic and/or answer the question
  • shown evidence of having done the required reading and of having understood the reading
  • presented a reasonable argument to back up your conclusions
  • demonstrated a reasonable level of spelling and grammatical usage
  • used referencing but this may need improvement
  • issues that may need to be identified and addressed in more depth


You will have:

  • addressed the topic and/or answered the question directly
  • presented soundly based arguments and backed these up with reasons
  • gone beyond description to analysis of key issues
  • used the English language well
  • shown evidence of reading widely
  • demonstrated understanding of the reading
  • used referencing that is satisfactory


You will have:

  • met the above criteria for a credit
  • demonstrated the attainment of a high degree of understanding of the concepts of the course
  • demonstrated deep insight into the application of knowledge and skills acquired to complex theoretical and practical situations
  • used referencing correctly
  • made reference to all appropriate legislation

High Distinction

You will have:

  • met the above criteria for a distinction
  • demonstrated the attainment of an outstanding level of achievement regarding the objectives of this course
  • demonstrated an interesting and/or original approach/idea/argument
  • demonstrated mastery of the relevant referencing system
  • ensured your conclusions are backed by well-reasoned arguments demonstrating a detailed insight and analysis of issues
  • ensured your references are made to the appropriate legislation for particular issues

Referencing Style Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 3rd ed
Submission Online

I require students to present their work in a single document. I will only accept online submission of your work. Upload your work in a Word document (not PDF). I expect student to present their assignment work on time. Take care with your submission. Avoid obvious mistakes, such as basic spelling and grammatical errors. Read your paper out aloud, word by word. It is slow however; it may be a productive exercise. Alternatively, or in addition, ask a friend to read your material. Generally, you should submit one document (even if the assessment is in two or more parts) and ensure that your name is included in the name of the saved document.

2 Written Assessment

Assessment Title LAWS19038 Written Assessment #2
Task Description

Key Aspects. Both 50% in-term assignments require students to review, or critically appraise and apply legal, planning, and environmental concepts and policies in the topics covered.

Fundamental Information. The second 50% assignment comprises a case that the involving environmental impact statement material, with respect to the China Stone Coal Project Application.

Assessment Due Date Week 12 Thursday (01-Jun-2017) 11:45 PM AEST
Thursday, 2 June 2016 at 11:45 PM AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Return Date to Students Exam Week Friday (16-Jun-2017)
Students will receive their assessment mark at the end of term – I will not provide specific individualised feedback for this assessment.
Weighting 50%
Assessment Criteria

The second 50% assignment comprises a theoretical and practical assessment of planning and environmental law process, policy and implementation. You are required to provide evidence of sound understanding, effective communication, structured argument and critical thinking within a well presented format. It is not necessarily the case that all the criteria will be met at a particular standard, as there may be superior performance on one of the criteria and not so satisfactory performance on another. A mark will be calculated by reference to an overall assessment of the criteria. Standards required to the various grades of pass use the university grades and results procedures. Details of specific criteria will be available within the assignment outline available within the Moodle course page.

Referencing Style Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 3rd ed
Submission Online

I require students to present their work in a single document.

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