On Wednesday 27 November 2019 Glen McLeod Legal hosted The Potential of Carbon Farming in Western Australia – Opportunities and Challenges conference in collaboration with Murdoch University and the Harry Butler Institute.

The event brought together legal, scientific, policy and industry experts for an evening of insightful commentary on the issue. Glen McLeod spoke on the law surrounding the issue.

The audience responded strongly to the presentations and engaged with the array of perspectives and there was lively discussion from our panel of experts. We would like to thank the speakers, panellists and attendees for contributing to a successful evening.

Speakers left to right: Professor Richard Harper, Dr Dean Revell, Gary Peacock (rear), Gaye Mackenzie, Professor Jürgen Bröhmer, Tristy Fairfield, Hayley McNamara, Glen McLeod, Michelle Rhodes


Glen stepped back in time on 20 November 2019 to revisit the primary school of his youth as part of the Law Society of Western Australia’s initiative “Lawyer visits to schools”.

Glen spent an engaging hour with an impressive Year 4 class at Maylands Peninsula Primary School to share the history of his time at the school back in the 1960s, as well as the history of law in WA, the different types of Courts and practices of law.  The students were interested to learn that the law extends beyond speeding, stealing and murder.

The aim of the programme is to increase student awareness of the law, legal principles and the court system in Western Australia and provide an exciting opportunity for the legal profession to engage with students and teachers in the community. Glen highly recommends the programme to other lawyers. Information on the programme can be found here.

The School of Law and the Harry Butler Institute of Murdoch University and Glen McLeod Legal are hosting a seminar on the potential of carbon farming in Western Australia.

The seminar will consider carbon farming in the context of a number of questions.

For example, what potential does carbon farming have, particularly in Western Australia? Is it conceivable that competing interests can be reconciled? What is the international and domestic legal framework around carbon farming?

To answer these questions the seminar will bring together scientists, legal academics, policymakers and experts from affected industries to learn and discuss.

The objective of the seminar will be to present a picture of the opportunities and challenges carbon farming presents in Western Australia.

The seminar will take place on 27 November 2019 from 2:30 – 7:00pm at Dexus Place, Level 16, 240 St George’s Terrace.

Entry for students is free. 3 CPD points in ‘Substantive Law’ are available.


Lea Hiltenkamp recently had the pleasure of presenting at the Piddington Society’s Margaret River Conference.

Lea presented on how climate change is affecting the Margaret River wine region, with a particular focus on water allocation plans in the south-west of Western Australia and the impacts of State Planning Policy 3.7 Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas.

The conference also included engaging presentations by current and former judicial officers, barrister and lawyers on a diverse range of topics.

Coffee in our KeepCups

The staff at Glen McLeod Legal are taking part in the Plastic Free July challenge. Plastic Free July is a yearly challenge, supported by the Western Australian Waste Authority, where people give up single use plastic during the month of July. The aim is to raise awareness on the amount of unnecessary single use plastic we use in our day to day lives.

The Glen McLeod Legal team made easy changes such as:
– continuing to use KeepCups during our morning coffee run;
–  replacing all teabags with loose leaf tea (it tastes better);
– taking reusable containers when ordering take-away lunch;
– saying no to plastic water bottles; and
– avoiding the use of plastic sticky tabs.

In 2018 over 120 million people took part in the challenge.

green mountains

Offsets are a problematic area for both planning and environmental decision makers and proponents. Offsets are actions that provide environmental benefits which counterbalance the significant residual environmental impacts or risks of a project or activity. Unlike mitigation actions which occur on-site as part of a project and reduce the direct impact of that project, offsets are undertaken outside of the project area and counterbalance significant residual impacts.

Vegetation offsets may be used where a proponent cannot avoid the removal of vegetation under a proposal. Instead, unavoidable environmental impacts are offset by conserving or rehabilitating another area of vegetation which is of better quality. Western Australia has an environmental offsets policy (Policy) works in this manner and is supported by the WA Environmental Offsets Guidelines (Guidelines).

Some criticisms which have been levelled at the Policy include:

    1. there is no generally agreed definition for measuring the effectiveness of offsets;
    2. the method of calculating the required offset contribution is contentious;
    3. even though offsets complied with their approval conditions, nothing is done to demonstrate or measure the ecological outcomes of the offset; and
    4. approval holders are no longer responsible for the management and monitoring of offsets once the approval conditions had been met and as a result offsets may not be managed in the longer term.

New and creative offset approaches have been developed which potentially address these concerns. Such approaches include the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund (Pilbara Fund) and the Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust (Biodiversity Trust).

The Pilbara Fund is a state government operated conservation fund. It receives payments from proponents who are active in the Pilbara and who cannot otherwise mitigate the impacts of their operations on the environment. The payments from proponents are used for conservation work in the Pilbara, and where possible, are used to build on existing local conservation projects. This allows for long-term continuity in offset projects. The fund is also unique in that it allows for multiple offset payments to be combined in order to deliver larger scale projects.

The Biodiversity Trust was established by a private entity, as part of its offset strategy for a large scale gold mine in Western Australia. A range of parties had input into the structure and operation of the Biodiversity Trust that has resulted in the development of a Bioregional Management Plan for the Great Victoria Desert, which delivers on-ground environmental and conservation management.

In conclusion, whilst the WA Policy and Guidelines offer an option for environmental offsets, it is clear that it is not the only possibility. Other creative offset solutions, such as the Pilbara Fund, Biodiversity Trust show that alternative avenues for offsets can be pursued.

We are delighted to announce that our two law clerks, Chelsea White and Lea Hiltenkamp, have continued with Glen McLeod Legal as law graduates in 2019. We are pleased that they have decided to begin their careers in the field of environmental and planning law and look forward to their admission to the legal profession later in the year.

We are delighted to announce that Jess Hamdorf and Connor Fisher have been advanced to the position of Associate at Glen McLeod Legal. This is in recognition of their wide ranging and growing competence in planning and environmental law. Congratulations to you both!

The Glen McLeod Legal team attended a seminar hosted by the National Environmental Law Association (WA) (NELA) on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in Western Australia (WA).

In March 2019 the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia released an Environmental Factor Guideline on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Guideline). The Guideline required major WA resources projects to 100% offset their greenhouse gas emissions. NELA hosted a seminar to discuss the Guideline, the role of policy in environmental impact assessment and the response from industry, which lead to the Guideline being withdrawn.

We heard from a panel of speakers which included the Hon Robert French AC, Dr Tom Hatton the Chairman of the WA Environmental Protection Authority, Bronwyn Bell the manager of natural resources at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia and Dr Jatin Kala, a climate scientist from Murdoch University and lead author on Chapter 1 of the IPCC Report: Global Warming of 1.5C.

A memorable quote from the former Chief Justice, the Hon Robert French AC, was his statement that “statutes do not speak for themselves” in reference to the need for policy to give operational life to the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA).