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

50 While the Harbour Strategy is to be praised for its attempt to provide focus to a complex legislative environment, there is a risk that the 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 strategic planning processes and decision making by the various interests and agencies that have a role in the use, exploitation and management of the Darwin Harbour regions resources, as well as the conservation and protection of its natural, social and cultural values. Currently, the only statutory instrument that captures the competing interests and demands in the region is the zoning map located in the Planning Scheme. However, while the Planning Scheme maps and illustrates land allocation and use, it does not provide the governance framework to oversee land allocation, land use decisions, land management considerations and the setting of environmental objectives and standards. 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. 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. The absence of the concept and principles of ESD within the objectives of an Act means that the Act itself is not informed by the concept of ESD and therefore its provisions are not necessarily drafted to support sustainability objectives, such as achieving integration with broader policy and legislative frameworks. As a consequence, the existing legislative frameworks applying in the Darwin Harbour region lack a common framework that would enable key legislative instruments to inform each other (for example the translation of biodiversity and water protection objectives in into development approvals) and to function within an governance framework that effectively promotes ESD.