Listed in “The Best Lawyers in Australia” 2024 for:
- Planning & Environmental Law (since 2020)
- Real Property Law (since 2021)
- Construction/Infrastructure Law
- Water Law – “Lawyer of the Year in 2023”
Clifford has authored the following publications:
“Admitting Evidence of pre-contract negotiations” – June 2010, Vol 48 No.5 LSJ
“Environmental planning in the public interest and private property rights: The role of s 28 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 NSW” – (2010) 15 LGLJ 155
“Should Private Property Rights Trump The Public Interest in Renewal of the Urban Environment” – November 2009, Volume 15, Local Government Law Journal at 86
“Climate Change Litigation and Planning Law” – Paper, NSW Bar Association Journal, 2008
Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney
Bachelor of Laws (Honours I), University of Sydney
Master of Laws, University of Sydney
Solicitor and Senior Associate, Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst)
Research Assistant, Land and Environment Court of New South Wales
Recent and Significant Cases
- 107 High Nth Sydney Pty Ltd v North Sydney Council  NSWLEC 1231– Sydney development: When is it reasonable to obscure a neighbour’s Harbour Bridge views? Written about in the Sydney Morning Herald, 20 May 2023.
- Site R & D Pty Ltd v Byron Shire Council  NSWLEC 1121 – Significant subdivision development in Byron Bay Shire, successfully approved by the NSW Land & Environment Court in a merits appeal decision handed down on 8 March 2022, by Commissioner Chilcott after a 9 day hearing. Clifford appeared for the Joint Venture Applicants who appealed the refusal by the Northern Regional Planning Panel, under delegation from Byron Shire Council (the Respondent) of the Applicant’s DA seeking consent to subdivide land in two separate areas forming part of the West Byron Urban Release Area (WBURA). Complex issues included: the Applicant’s requests to vary development standards under SEPP 1; whether the Site contained core koala habitat, potential impacts on frog habitat, and biodiversity impacts, including proposed tree removal; acceptable design of road access to industrial land and the satisfaction of all jurisdictional requirements. This is an important decision for planning and environmental law as it addresses complex planning and environmental issues and resolves them in a lengthy and detailed judgment which may have application for similar future cases.
- Secretary, Department of Planning and Environment v Goodman Property Services (Aust) Pty Ltd; Secretary, Department of Planning and Environment v Burton Contractors Pty Ltd T/as Burton Civil Engineering Contractors (No 2)  NSWLEC 34 – Successfully argued, appearing unled, that criminal charges brought by the NSW Department of Planning were legally defective.
- Mangoola Coal Operations Pty Limited v Muswellbrook Shire Council  NSWCA 46 – This was a rating and land valuation case, the amounts in issue being many millions of dollars, and concerning the rating categorisation of land surrounding one of the largest open cut coal mines in Australia. Was buffer land surrounding a mine categorised as “mining” or “farming”? Also appeared at trial:  NSWLEC 66 (11 June 2020).
- Tropic Asphalts Pty Ltd v Snowy Monaro Regional Council  NSWCCA 24 – Appearing unled for the Prosecutor in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, successfully defended a decision of Moore J (dated 16 September 2020  NSWLEC 136), against an application under s 5F of the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 (NSW) for leave to appeal. The defendant argued the subpoena was tainted by improper purpose and illegality.
- Palm Beach Protection Group Inc v Northern Beaches Council (No 2)  NSWLEC 181 (15 December 2020) and Palm Beach Protection Group Incorporated v Northern Beaches Council  NSWLEC 156 (20 November 2020) – Successful environmental or public interest judicial review proceedings, before Preston CJ of LEC, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court.
- Kiangatha Holdings Pty Ltd v Water NSW  NSWCCA 263 (19 October 2020) – NSW Court of Criminal Appeal. Successfully appealed a decision of the NSW Land & Environment Court (20 December 2019) arguing that the Prosecutors’ summonses were bad for duplicity. The case lays down some important guidelines for the guidance of prosecutors in the area of environmental crime, concerning the need for precision in pleading.
- Menangle Sand and Soil Pty Ltd v Minister for Planning  NSWLEC 1425 – Successful merits review appeal to the NSW Land & Environment Court against a decision of the Minister for Planning refusing a modification application of an existing consent seeking the extension of a major sand mining operation or quarry for the purpose of extraction of sand and soil and ancillary works, for a further 15 years of operation. The quarry in question had originally supplied the sand used for the concrete used in the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- AMT Planning Consultants Pty Ltd t/as Coastplan Consulting v Central Coast Council  NSWCA 289 – successfully defended an appeal concerning the character of the use of the land for which development consent was granted for the purposes of establishing an “existing use” under sections (formerly known as) 106 and 107(1)(b)(i) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act)
- EPA v Wellington  NSWLEC 8; (2017) 222 LGERA 31 – successfully argued that the Class 5 criminal proceedings concerning a pollution incident leading to the pollution of the Macquarie River from the council’s sewage treatment plant should be dismissed on legal grounds.
- EPA v Riverina  NSWCCA 165; (2015) 90 NSWLR 57 successfully defending serious criminal charges under the POEO Act brought against client who was a manufacturer of stockfeed. Leading decision on duplicity of criminal charges in environmental crime.
Clifford is the Editor of the “Local Government – Finance – Actionable Liability” section of Lexis Nexis’ Local Government Planning & Environment NSW Service.
NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal: Retail Lease Jurisdiction paper 23 March 2023.