Tom White


Tom White specialises in all aspects of environment and planning law, with significant experience advising all levels (Commonwealth, State and local) of government as well as private landowners, developers and institutional investors on complex development projects and infrastructure. Tom provides strategic planning, environmental, heritage and approval advice on property development, energy and infrastructure projects. He is particularly well known for his expertise acting for acquiring authorities and landowners on compulsory acquisitions required for infrastructure projects. Tom is also an experienced litigator, acting in a range of disputes in the Land and Environment Court of NSW and other state and federal jurisdictions.


Tom White specialises in providing strategic advice across all aspects of environment and planning law, at all stages of a project life-cycle to facilitate the approval and development of infrastructure, industrial, residential and education projects. Tom is highly skilled in coordinating consultant teams to achieve development outcomes on complex projects and has developed strong relationships with intermediaries including barristers, town planning and environmental consultants, valuers and project managers.

Tom's litigation experience extends to the conduct of planning appeals, project challenges, valuation objections, criminal prosecutions and land acquisition compensation claims in the NSW Land and Environment Court (NSWLEC) and to other environment and planning related litigation in the Supreme Court of NSW, NSW Court of Appeal and other jurisdictions.

Tom also has significant transactional and advisory experience acting for all levels of government, private developers and owners of contaminated land.

A select list of Tom’s experience includes advising clients on:

  • planning approval pathways to facilitate development of land, including strategic advice on the preparation and assessment of development applications under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) and self-assessment under Part 5 of the EP&A Act
  • compliance with planning and environmental laws and potential liability for offences, including during investigations or enforcement action by regulatory authorities
  • voluntary planning agreements involving the provision of complex public domain works and community facilities
  • infrastructure contributions applicable to the redevelopment of land
  • contaminated land
  • waste and pollution incidents
  • environmental licensing
  • compulsory acquisition of land threatened species, heritage and environment protection legislation.

Career highlights

Tom's experience includes:

  • Advising on the 2016 amendments to the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (Just Terms Act) and the current land acquisition review project being conducted by the Department of Planning, Housing & Infrastructure (DPHI).
  • Advising the Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) on property, planning and environmental issues associated with the development of Renewable Energy Zones (REZ), network infrastructure projects and priority transmission infrastructure projects.
  • Advising Regional Growth NSW Development Corporation (RGDC) on the acquisition of all land required in the Wagga Wagga, Parkes and Moree Special Activation Precincts, including acting for RGDC in four Class 3 proceedings in the NSWLEC. Two of those proceedings have settled while claims of $54m and $36m are being litigated in the other two.
  • Advising Transport for NSW (TfNSW) on numerous planning and environmental matters over more than 14 years including the $2.5 billion Northern Road Upgrade, the Northern Beaches B-Line and other smaller projects.
  • Advising Sydney Trains in relation to a wide range of environmental and planning matters including environmental licensing, managing waste, concurrence obligations, noise issues and contamination.
  • Advising TfNSW on land acquisitions for a range of projects including the Gateway Project and the WestConnex Project and the now abandoned Northern Beaches Link. This has involved acting in hundreds of negotiated acquisitions and over 60 litigated matters in the NSWLEC, including the largest claim in NSW history for over $600 million in compensation with the ultimate award being approximately $50 million.
  • Acting for Sydney Water on numerous water infrastructure projects including a new water treatment plant at Camellia, the Kemps Creek Pressure Main project and appeals against the valuation of assets under the Valuation of Land Act 1916.
  • Acting for the Department of Education on numerous school infrastructure projects across NSW including several litigated matters in the NSWLEC.
  • Acting for TfNSW as prosecutor to secure the conviction of a company and director under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) for unlawful transport of waste and unlawful use of a place in Pittwater as a waste facility.
  • Advising Property NSW on the acquisition strategy for the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, the redevelopment of heritage buildings in The Rocks, the acquisition of a heavily contaminated former lead smelter site and proposed amendments to the EP&A Act and the Just Terms Act.
  • Acting for the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to claims arising from contamination allegedly caused by the historical use of AFFF products containing PFAS.
  • Advising the Department of Defence on environmental and compliance requirements associated with remediation projects in NSW, Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria.
  • Advising Lendlease on planning, environmental, heritage and contamination issues associated with the development of Barangaroo and the over-station development at Martin Place.
  • Advising Hanson on heritage issues associated with the Calga Aboriginal Cultural Landscape and sand quarrying.
  • Advising numerous private landowners on issues arising from contaminated land including remediation and divestment strategies and obligations under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act).
  • Advising Fletcher Building Australia on contaminated land and pollution matters in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
  • Acting for Rocla in the NSWLEC to defend an objector appeal to the planning approval for the expansion of a sand quarry, coordinating a team of 22 expert and lay witnesses. Acting for Baiada in the NSWLEC to obtain approval for the development of five broiler farms in Northern NSW, coordinating a team of 14 expert and lay witnesses.
  • Acting for Strathfield Council, Bayside Council, Blacktown Council, Georges River Council, Central Coast Council, Wagga Wagga City Council, Wentworth Council, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Goldenfields Water County Council on a range of planning, environmental and acquisition matters.
  • Conducting training for staff of Valuation NSW, Schools Infrastructure, DPHI, TfNSW and Sydney Water on the Just Terms Act and Valuation of Land Act 1916.