Territory Stories

Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks



Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks

Other title

Environment Protection Agency.


Environment Protection Agency (Northern Territory); Northern Territory. Department Of Lands, Planning And Environment


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT





Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- 1. Background -- 1.1 Terms of reference -- 1.2 Scope and structure of the review -- 1.3 Ecologically sustainable development and governance -- 1.4 Ecologically sustainable development, principles and criteria -- 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region -- 2. Ecologically sustainable development in legislation, policies and plans -- 2.1 Strategic development and management -- 2.2 Land use -- 2.3 Minerals, extractive materials and petroleum -- 2.4 Ports -- 2.5 Pollution, waste and public health -- 2.6 Water -- 2.7 Fisheries and marine areas -- 2.8 Biodiversity, heritage and natural resource management -- 2.9 Environmental assessment -- 3. Discussion and findings -- 4. Advice.




Darwin Harbour -- Environmental aspects; Environmental management -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Harbour

Publisher name

Environment Protection Agency

Place of publication



vii, 59 p. : col. ills. ; 30 cm.

File type




Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

23 ESD The objective of ESD is not defined in either the Mining Act or the Mining Management Act despite its relevance to activities governed by this legislation. Although not defining ESD, the Mining Act recognises the objective of removing risks to the environment. The Mining Management Act also establishes the objective of environmental protection. Neither of these pieces of legislation includes any of the associated principles of ESD. Integration Unlike other land-use regimes, the mining framework provides for the issue of some forms of tenure with the ability to override other forms of tenure and land-use, including normal planning and environmental protection frameworks. The only cases in which exceptions to the power of mining tenure currently apply are where exploration activities are proposed on Aboriginal Land, and must be based upon the informed consent of the traditional owners, and in situations relating to Commonwealth national parks and the Cobourg Peninsula Marine Park. Apart from these limited requirements, the mining regime is not integrated with standard planning and environment protection frameworks. At present, mining activities are exempt from the general strategic frameworks that apply to land-use planning, water planning, fisheries planning, Northern Territory parks and reserve planning and biodiversity protection and vegetation clearing, as well as waste management and pollution control. The objectives and principles under these regimes are not reflected under the framework established by the Mining Act and the Mining Management Act. The exemption of processes for granting mining tenure from general strategic planning and environment frameworks is a significant issue for ESD. This is because facilities associated with mining, such as processing plants, export ports or wharf terminals have the potential to be established under this regime when located on mining tenure. Accordingly, these facilities may also escape normal planning and environmental regulation. The problems of exempting facilities on mining tenements from standard environment and planning controls have been demonstrated through a number of recent environmental incidents in the Northern Territory, and these risks apply to all mining facilities located within the Darwin Harbour region. Public Participation The environmental management system for a mine site, in the form of a Mine Management Plan (MMP), is the main vehicle through which environmental considerations are factored into mining activities. These plans are currently not made publicly available. This lack of public information on how the mine is being managed to prevent environmental harm severely limits any public participation in ensuring accountable and transparent practices by miners and mine monitoring agencies. Other Critical Issues for ESD The Reservation of Occupation (RO) mechanism is the only way in which the location of mining activities can be limited under the mining legislative framework. An RO is currently in place for the Darwin Harbour region. The application of this mechanism,