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.

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Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



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28 direction of the Minister for Transport. Decision-making under the legislation adopts the same trade-focussed approach. Policies and Plans The DPCs Environmental Policy refers to various components of ESD, but these references are vague. The policy appears to be a general statement reflecting the aspirations of the DPC without any specific application in its activities and plans. There is no reference within the policy to the public interest or the desire of the DPC to consult with and engage the broader community. It appears that other accountable parties (industry clients) are the only stakeholders that have been considered in forming the policy, and that DPCs focus is meeting regulatory obligations irrespective of ESD. Integration A lack of integration across legal frameworks applicable to port activities is a critical issue. The Marine Pollution Act and the activities of the DPC are inextricably linked, when one considers the potential for environmental impacts of port activities. Despite this, the Marine Pollution Act captures only those incidents involving ship-sourced pollution, and does not address pollution on the port surface, which may include dust emissions, and/or stormwater contamination. There are also significant omissions in the types of pollution covered by the Port By-Laws, considering the materials currently being handled. Similarly, there is overlap and uncertainty in agency responsibilities regarding enforcement of marine pollution offences, between the Department of Planning Marine Safety Division under the Marine Pollution Act, and DPC under the DPC Act and Port By-Laws. As port activities do not require licensing under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act, there is a significant gap in the consideration and implementation of ESD - particularly the precautionary approach - in the key legislation addressing these activities. Legislation, policies and plans relating to ports and port activities are currently isolated, independent layers of regulation fail to accommodate or relate to one another creating a disjointed and ad hoc pattern of regulation. This approach is compounded by the division of administration responsibilities between the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport (NRETAS), the Department of Lands and Plannings Marine Safety Division and DPC. Even when considered in isolation, none of these frameworks can be considered best practice in the implementation of ESD. Public Participation No provision is made for public participation in the legislative framework applicable to ports and port activities.