John has more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of planning, environment and related administrative law.
Prior to admission to the Bar in 2016, John was a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills where he led the Planning and Environment team (Brisbane office). In this role, he was recognised as a leading lawyer for Environment by Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific (2011-2016) and Environment & Climate Change by Australian Financial Review’s Best Lawyers (2012-2016).
As a solicitor, his planning and environmental law practice encompassed the full range of development and major infrastructure projects, providing strategic advice in relation to approvals, advising on environmental compliance, contaminated land issues, environmental impact statements and environmental incident response. John has also acted in many major Planning and Environment Court matters as well as environmental prosecutions and litigation arising out of development appeals, environmental incidents and land compensation matters. His clients have included both private and government entities operating in the retail, land development, manufacturing, resources, electricity, gas and water industries.
Whilst practicing predominantly in the planning and environment field, John also acts in a broad range of commercial disputes, including matters relating to construction, defamation, and land law and property (including annual valuation appeals).
Significant matters undertaken as a solicitor (include):
- Advising Investa in relation to the ongoing development of the Brentwood master planned community near Springfield which has 28 stages and over 1,000 lots still to be developed over the next 10 years.
- Advising Leighton Properties on the $1.2 billion Southbank Townsville development on a former railway yard comprising 1,100 units and houses as well as a commercial precinct.
- Advising Queensland Treasury in relation to town planning, environmental and heritage issues associated with the redevelopment of the Royal Children’s Hospital.
- Barro Group on all environmental and planning approvals required for its 40 year quarry extension at Mt Cotton which involved clearing native vegetation, State and Federal koala habitat approvals and clearances, water quality, traffic and infrastructure contribution issues.
- Advising Veolia on environmental approvals associated with CSG associated water recycling plant in the Surat Basin.
- Campbell Group and Future Fund: Advising in relation to environmental, planning and water issues in relation to successful bid for acquisition of Forestry SA assets.
- Advising Jemena on environmental and approval issues in relation to gas pipelines in Queensland.
- Advising Orica in relation to environmental issues associated with its Gladstone Yarwun Chemicals Complex.
- Advising the Queensland Government on all environmental and town planning issues associated with the $603 million sale of the assets of Forestry Plantations Queensland (the largest commercial plantation owners in Queensland).
- Advising Santos on project approvals required for the $18 billion Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project.
- Advising Lend Lease on the $2.9 billion redevelopment of the RNA ‘Ekka’ showgrounds in Brisbane.
- Advising Lend Lease on environmental approvals for its Rocky Springs development in Townsville comprising a 1,594 ha site which on completion will be home to over 35,000 people in over 12,000 dwellings.
- Advising the Queensland Government on environment and planning issues associated with the $2 billion 730-bed Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
- Advising the Queensland Department of Public Works and Housing in relation to all development approvals and environmental issues associated with the landmark A$63 million Kurilpa Bridge, a pedestrian and cycle bridge in Brisbane’s inner city.
- Peabody on the environmental aspects of its acquisition of Macarthur Coal.
- AGL in relation to environmental and water issues associated with the development of its coal seam gas assets in the Galilee Basin.
- AGL in relation to all environmental and planning approvals required for its proposed 500MW Cooper’s Gap windfarm.
- Advising the Queensland Department of Education, Employment & Training in relation to development approvals and environmental issues associated with the $1.1 billion SEQ PPP Schools Project.
- TRU Energy in relation to development approvals required for its proposed Swanbank gas fired power station.
- Lend Lease in relation to a successful Queensland Planning and Environment Court action to defend a Council decision to refuse to approval to expand the competing Noosa Civic shopping centre to a regional shopping centre.
- Queensland Investment Corporation in relation to all environmental and planning approvals required for Garden Town Shopping Centre redevelopment.
- Mirvac in relation to development approvals required for the Orion Town Centre.
- Advising ENERGEX on environmental, planning and cultural heritage issues associated with its electricity supply network.
- Advising international oil and gas service company on issues associated with hydraulic fracturing operations in Australia.
- Advising Powerlink in relation to all environmental, planning and cultural heritage approvals required for the Millmerran to Middle Ridge high voltage power line.
- Advising SEQ Water and the Department of Infrastructure in relation to environmental and planning issues associated with various aspects of the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project.
- Advising the Thiess John Holland Joint Venture on building approvals required for construction on Commonwealth land for the $4.8 billion Airport Link Project.
- Advising the Department of Main Roads in relation to environmental and planning issues associated with the Tugun Bypass.
- Acting for Reef Cove Resort Pty Ltd in successfully defending a challenge to its development approvals for a residential resort development at False Cape, Cairns in both the Planning and Environment Court and the Court of Appeal.
- Acting for CEC Group Limited in successfully defending Planning and Environment Court proceedings relating to its use of the Mareeba Landfill.
- Advising on all planning approvals for the Noosa Springs golf course, resort and residential development including the conduct of two successful Planning and Environment Court appeals.
- Advising Transpacific in relation to environmental issues associated with the proposed acquisition of Cleanaway.
- Advising Stockland in relation to planning issues associated with various residential and retail projects in Queensland.
- Advising resource companies in relation to environmental approvals required for new projects and proposed expansions of existing mine sites including associated infrastructure.
- Acting for mining companies, property developers, service station operators and manufacturers in relation to environmental incident management.
- Acting for the owners on The Spit, Main Beach (including the owners of SeaWorld, Palazzo Versace, The Sheraton Mirage and Mariner’s Cove) in relation to annual valuation objections and appeals to the Land Court.
Doyle’s Guide to the Australian Legal Profession
Leading Planning & Environment Barristers Queensland – Recommended Junior Counsel (2018), Leading Junior Counsel (2019)
Australian Financial Review Best Lawyers®
Planning and Environment Law (2020)
In his role as a solicitor:
Chambers & Partners Asia Pacific
Environment (2011-2016): “known to the market for his planning and infrastructure expertise. He offers significant experience in handling environmental approvals work associated with large-scale projects”.
Who’s Who Legal
Environment (Leading Barrister, 2018)
Australian Financial Review Best Lawyers®
Environment & Climate Change (2012-2016).
Member, Bar Association of Queensland
2008 Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills
2000 Partner, Clayton Utz
1995 Senior Associate, Clayton Utz
1992 Solicitor, Clayton Utz
A graduate of the University of Queensland, John holds Bachelor of Arts (majoring in economics) and Bachelor of Laws degrees.