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



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Citation address


Page content

35 Findings The Waste Management and Pollution Control (WMPC) Act is inadequate in regulating industrial activities within the harbour. The Act fails to provide for licensing of all significantly risky environmental activities. The offences established under the WMPC Act are difficult to establish, relying on levels of environmental harm as the standard of proof, which in practice have prevented penalties being effectively applied. Specific offences addressing water, air and land pollution are absent from the Act. Additionally, where a substance is leaked into the harbour, the burden of proof lies with the regulator to establish that environmental harm has been caused, rather than upon the offending company/individual to establish that environmental harm was not caused and/ or they did not leak the substance. The Water Act is a key regulatory instrument for Darwin Harbour, operating specifically on a site by site basis, however guided by beneficial use declarations. Where there are not declared beneficial uses under the Water Act a licence to discharge waste water is not required. The role and application of the Marine Pollution Act is limited and inadequate. Its reliance on the standard of environmental harm for establishing an offence under the Act makes a successful prosecution, even where a substance has leaked into the harbour unauthorised, unlikely. The Marine Pollution Act is enforced by the Marine Safety Division of the Department of Lands and Planning, which typically does not have a focus on environmental protection.