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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Page content

51 Under the current situation various pieces of legislation compete with each other, operate without reference to each other, contain varying levels of public participation and accountability, resulting in a complicated layering of legislation that is difficult to navigate and disparate in its application. 3. Integration Between Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks Based Upon ESD. As noted above, there is no current legislative framework which integrates planning processes and decisions about land allocation, development and management for Darwin Harbour. In other jurisdictions traditional planning legislation has rapidly grown to become the key mechanism for the integration of urban and regional landuse issues, informed by environmental constraints and values as well as economic opportunity. The Northern Territorys current planning framework is sectoral and, accordingly, does not provide an integrating mechanism for Darwin Harbour. For example, the legislative frameworks for the granting of mining tenure and subsequent mining activity have substantial power and override the planning regime (as well as other environment protection regimes). In respect to the environmental impact assessment process, there is inconsistency in how recommendations are implemented into the development consent process and there is a lack of subsequent public accountability related to the uptake of these recommendations. This has been the subject of an EPA report, Improving Environmental Assessment in the Northern Territory, provided to government in April 2010. The Territory Parks and Wildlife Act similarly does not have the mechanism to translate known biodiversity values into the planning regime and accordingly land allocation is not necessarily being informed by environmental values. When examining the Northern Territorys mining framework, there is a similar lack of integration. The uptake of recommendations from the environmental impact assessment process is legally discretionary and currently there is no requirement to provide public account of how environmental considerations have been factored into the approval of a mine management plan. Environment protection legislation, such as the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act or the Water Act currently has no jurisdiction over mining tenures. While there is a current Reservation of Occupancy on Darwin Harbour under the Mining Act, these issues are relevant beyond the harbour itself, including the greater catchment area where extractive industries occur. Within the mining regime, there is a fundamental disconnection between the approval of mines at a mine site level and the flow-on of impacts associated with the movement and transport of ore through transport nodes, specifically the East Arm Wharf. Accordingly, there is a lack of assessment, including a cumulative impact assessment, of how granting of approval to a mine site may impact on the wharf or other transport hubs from which the ore is transported and/ or exported. In terms of biodiversity conservation, the lack of integration between the Territory Parks and Wildlife Act and the Fisheries Regulations has resulted in a failure to protect fish species identified as threatened under the legislation.