Environmental property rights in Australia: constructing a new Tower of Babel

Document Type


Publication details

Martin, P, Kennedy, A, Page, J & Williams, J 2013, 'Environmental property rights in Australia: constructing a new Tower of Babel', Environmental and Planning Law Journal, vol. 30, 531.

Peer Reviewed



An argument for market-based approaches to environmental conservation is the expectation that a property rights approach can achieve environmental goals efficiently, provide new sources of funds, and allow industry to find cost-effective solutions to environmental harms. It is also argued that property rights-based approaches minimise the risk of the "tragedy of the commons" and ensure resources are put to the highest value use. Legal property interests are thus fundamental to an "environmental economy". However, this article argues that the proliferation of environmental market instruments and incentive programs in Australia has the potential to create unexpected legal complexities, largely due to a failure to account for the interactions between property interests.

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