environment protection

Metropolitan Fire Brigade v City of Yarra (2011-2017)

Landmark environmental case concerning claims for clean up costs concerning remediation of toxic waste abandoned on former industrial land. Lead counsel for plaintiff MFB at trial, on appeal and in the High Court.

The MFB occupied polluted land and was required to clean up toxic waste abandoned on site decades before by the Richmond City Council, later the City of Yarra, a prior occupier of the land. The MFB was successful in obtaining orders requiring the City of Yarra to pay the costs of the clean up with a trial on the quantum of damages to follow.

The judgment at first instance was upheld on appeal and special leave to the High Court has been refused. The quantum trial is progressing. 

The case follows on the decision of Spotless, and considers the provisions of the Environment Protection Act concerning the abandonment of pollution. 

The appeal considered for the first time a number of key provisions of the Environment Protection Act concerning recovery of compensation from a polluter. The case also considered the effect of the amalgamation of municipal councils on liability of the new entity. 

See judgment on appeal and case notes

Wheelahan & Ors. v City of Casey - Casey landfill case

Class action and recovery claim for remediation of methane leaching landfill in Victorian Supreme Court. The leaching led to the evacuation of a Melbourne suburb, Brookland Greens and claims against the landfill operator, the Environment Protection Authority and others.

Led the team for the defendant, Frankston City Council defending claims by the City of Casey for a contribution to the costs, past and future of remediation of an unlined landfill. 

Casey claimed past and future costs exceeding $200M.  

Blue Wedges Inc v Minister For The Environment, Heritage And The Arts

Led the case for the plaintiff concerning the proposal to deepen the shipping channel and dump dredge spoil including toxic metals and other contaminants in Port Philip.

The dredging involved the disturbance of heavy metals and other historical industrial waste in the Yarra River and Port Philip and the impact of dredging and dumping of spoil in the Bay on protected species and Ramsar wetlands in the Bay and recreational use of the Bay.

The case concerned the approval of the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and the assessment process conducted by the state and Port authority.