Minter Ellison

Russell Bowie
With more than 30 years' experience in this specialist area, I am acknowledged as one of Australia's foremost environment and planning lawyers and one of the leaders of MinterEllison's national practice in this field.
  • +61 7 3119 6281

I specialise in complex environment and planning litigation, development approvals, environmental impact assessment, land resumption, statutory valuation, liquor licensing, environmental compliance, contamination remediation and site rehabilitation issues. I'm also a strategic adviser to both public and private sector clients on the planning and environmental aspects of major infrastructure and development projects.

Career highlights

Ranked as a leading lawyer by Who's Who Legal, Chambers Global, Chambers Asia Pacific, Best Lawyers and others. Sources note that "his availability is unquestionable", he is a "skilled tactician" and "runs a tight ship and a tight team" (Chambers Asia Pacific 2016), "handles clients extremely well"(Chambers Asia Pacific 2015). Clients value his "thorough and strategic advice" (Chambers Asia Pacific 2013) describing him as "very good - lots of industry knowledge" (Chambers Asia Pacific 2014) and "extremely knowledgeable and a good advocate - one of the best environmental lawyers in Queensland" (Chambers Asia Pacific 2012).

Retail Development

Scentre Limited

Acted for Scentre in respect of an appeal against conditions imposed on the expansion of a shopping centre which required free carparking. Orders were obtained allowing minor changes to the application (including staging of the application) and allowing the early start of each stage of the development and use. Successful negotiation resulted in final orders approving the development subject to conditions, without the need to progress to a hearing. Acted in challenging the development of a warehouse retail development in the Moreton Bay Regional Council area and subsequently preparing a submission to the Minister with respect to the proposed call-in of that application. Acted for Scentre in obtaining development approvals for major regional shopping centres in Queensland, obtaining changes to approvals and advising on structure planning and master planning requirements. Acted in a range of Planning and Environment Court proceedings opposing new retail development in the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Moreton Bay regions.

Lendlease Limited

Advised Lendlease in obtaining approval for a major extension of the Sunshine Plaza regional shopping centre. Acted (also appearing as advocate) in appeal opposing approval of shopping centre development in Noosa. Advised Lendlease on the integrity of the Cairns Planning Scheme in planning litigation challenging the role of the Cairns Central Shopping Centre. Acted in Planning and Environment Court proceedings opposing Cairns Homemaker Centre development successfully restricting its purpose to bulky goods; Acted (including appearing as advocate) in application to Planning and Environment Court seeking to re-enliven material change of use approval and building approval for shopping centre extension.


Provided advice on completing retail development and prepared submissions against them; advising on superseded planning scheme application; assisted in securing development approval for shopping centre expansion.

Leda Holdings

Acting in relation to a range of project approvals, development applications and litigation with respect to residential and retail development, including assisting in obtaining development approvals to expand a shopping centre impacted by 2011 flood.

Resources/Extractive Industry

Boral Limited

Providing ongoing advice to Boral on environmental and planning issues for various quarries and conversions of quarries for residential development.

Neilsens Quality Gravels Pty Ltd

Acted for Neilsens successfully appealing a refusal of an application for sand and gravel extraction operation dealing with issues including town planning, traffic, visual amenity, landscaping, water quality, groundwater, hydraulics and hydrology. Obtained early start orders allowing the development to proceed before Court conditions finally settled. Acted for the Neilsen Group in respect of its proposed extractive industry expansion to obtain a permissible change of approval to allow the implementation of a revised water management system for the extraction operations.

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal Pty Ltd

Acting for Anglo (including appearing as advocate) in proceedings relating to an operational coal mine. Advising on approvals processes for coal mine expansion.



Acted for Dexus in Planning and Environment Court proceedings to obtain approval of a commercial development in the CBD which development was opposed by a nearby owner on grounds including height and heritage issues, successfully negotiating an outcome without the need to proceed to a hearing of the appeal.


Acting on behalf of a resident group (including appearing as advocate) successfully challenging council approval of a high rise residential development at Kangaroo Point inconsistent with planning scheme.

Teys Australia Pty Ltd

Acted for Teys Australia successfully opposing a development application for residential development near its existing abattoir. Issues included reverse amenity and concerns about potential health impacts on the future residents.

Other key clients include Aveo Group Limited, Wilmar and Springfield Land Corporation.

Land Valuation/Resumption Compensation

Westfield, AMP, CFS, QIC Centro and Eureka

Acted in a large group of appeals successfully challenging the principles being applied by the State government for the valuation of regional shopping centres in the Land Court, Land Appeal Court and Court of Appeal; leading to negotiations on behalf of centre owners and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia negotiating replacement legislation to ensure long term benefit consistent with appeal outcomes.

Thiess Services Pty Ltd

Acted in an appeal (including appearing as advocate) successfully challenging the principles applied by the State Government for the valuation of land for regional landfill operation

Queensland Coordinator-General

Advising the on compensation for resumption of easements for the Northern Pipeline Inter-connector Stage 2 and for designated State Development Areas and acting on the Coordinator-General's behalf in Land Court proceedings seeking compensation for resumption.