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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iii 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. 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. Integrate legislative and regulatory frameworks based upon ESD A critical issue is the lack of integration across the key legislative and regulatory regimes applying to the Darwin Harbour region and across the Territory. There is presently no legislative mechanism that integrates planning processes and decisions across the key legislative frameworks which determine decisions on critical issues such as land allocation, development and environmental management. The Darwin Harbour Strategy is presently the only document that attempts to align relevant policy, legislation and regulatory instruments towards a common vision for the sustainable management of the region. The lack of integration between legislative and regulatory frameworks has resulted in: legislative frameworks for mining activity having substantial power and the ability to effectively override standard planning and environment protection frameworks inconsistency in the way in which recommendations from the Environmental Assessment Act are implemented into the development consent and mining approval processes The inability to translate known biodiversity values established under frameworks such as the Territory Parks and Wildlife Act into other key legislative frameworks, such as the planning regime 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 Agencies undertaking separate strategic planning and visioning exercises for Darwin Harbour 4. Ensure effective regulatory and enforcement mechanisms A number of current land uses and development activities have the potential for significant environmental impacts in the Darwin Harbour region. However, regulatory regimes governing the operation of land uses and subsequent activities in the region, vary substantially in their application, are inconsistent or in many cases simply do not exist. Significantly, these frameworks do not operate in an integrated manner to enable an understanding of the cumulative effects of decisions on land-use and development on the region.