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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Page content

ii 1. Develop an overarching governance framework for the Darwin Harbour region The layering of legislation, policy and strategies applicable to the Darwin Harbour region has resulted in a complex web of roles and responsibilities competing to set strategic direction and planning for development. This has resulted in ad hoc management and use of resources, and complex decision-making frameworks. The Darwin Harbour Strategy (endorsed by the Northern Territory Government in June 2010) and its predecessor, the Darwin Harbour Regional Plan of Management (2003), attempt to align applicable legislation, decision-making and strategic planning towards a common objective and goal and in doing so set the parameters necessary to meet the common goal. The Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee has provided a consistent voice in promoting a coordinated and integrated approach to decision-making, environmental management and protection in the Darwin Harbour region. It is commendable that a committee made up of community members has been able to achieve the first necessary steps towards integration through the Darwin Harbour Strategy. There is a risk, however, that the Darwin Harbour Strategy will result in little change to the status quo, particularly in resolving the current competing interests when determining the strategic direction for the Darwin Harbour region. To achieve this level of integration will require legislative and policy change to provide an overarching governance framework, which coordinates and integrates the strategic planning processes and decision making by the various interests and agencies that have a role in the use, exploitation and management of Darwin Harbour. This action requires commitment and support from government. The strategy sets the vision for Darwin Harbour but is unable to provide the governance framework necessary to support the vision. The framework necessary for the achievement of this vision has to come from government. 2. Implement ESD in policy, legislation and planning There are a number of high-level government policy documents that are of critical importance to decision-making regarding future of the Darwin Harbour region. Significantly, these include the Northern Territory Governments Territory 2030 Strategic Plan and Northern Territory Climate Change Policy. While these documents do not directly cite ESD principles as part of their objectives, they are clearly informed by the principles and are implicitly based upon the recognition for sustainability in the Territory. There are also a number of key pieces of legislation that are relevant in shaping ESD outcomes not only in the Darwin Harbour region but across the Northern Territory. These include the Planning Act, the Mining Act and Mining Management Act, the Water Act, the Territory Parks and Wildlife Act, the Darwin Ports Corporation Act, the Fisheries Act, the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act, the Marine Pollution Act and the Environmental Assessment Act. Of these pieces of legislation, only the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act and the Fisheries Act specifically refer to ESD within their objectives, although the Planning Act establishes the sustainable use of resources and protection of the environment as supporting objects to the Act.