Brent Lillywhite




Brent has over 15 years’ experience providing strategic legal advice to developers, local government, state government authorities and government-owned corporations on all aspects of front end and litigious planning and environment law.

Brent adopts a truly holistic approach with his work, offering planning due diligence, strategic advice on approvals frameworks, project management of development applications, drafting and negotiating infrastructure agreements and litigating decisions through the courts.

Brent's experience extends into land resumption, native title claims, cultural heritage matters, land contamination, planning scheme drafting, corporate governance and judicial review.

Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society’s Planning and Environment Committee and is a former President of the Queensland Environmental Law Association. He is regularly recognised by legal directories as a leader in his field, including being named as the Lawyer of the Year in land use and zoning law in his jurisdiction by Best Lawyers Australia 2022.

Key deals

Toowoomba Regional Council and OBEX – Oakey PFAS contamination

Acting in separate Supreme Court proceedings for Toowoomba Regional Council and Oakey Beef Exports Pty Ltd (OBEX) in relation to the PFAS contamination of groundwater and soils from the historical use of firefighting foams at the Army Aviation Centre Oakey. The claims against the Department of Defence for negligence, nuisance and breach of statutory duty have resulted in a range of damages concerning both public infrastructure and works (for the Council) and diminution in property and business value (for OBEX).

Quandamooka Coast native title claim

Acting for Redland City Council in Federal Court native title proceedings in relation to the Quandamooka Coast claim over the mainland area of Redland. This includes an extensive review of the Council’s assets and tenure within the claim area (over 3,000 parcels of land) to ensure the status of native title is properly recognised and protected in the proceedings. Separate non-claimant applications have also been brought by the Council with a view to all aspects of native title throughout Council’s local government area are completely and comprehensively determined.

Queensland Alumina Limited – 5 Year Environmental Improvement Program

Acting for Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) in the preparation and implementation of its 5 Year Environmental Improvement Program, which will see the investment of over A$400 million of capital expenditure, coupled with operational and cultural change, to reduce short and long-term environmental risk. As one of the largest alumina refineries in the world, QAL is committed to continual improvement of its environmental performance. Brent’s involvement has included structuring environmental approval frameworks and pathways, ongoing assistance in implementing projects and responding to environmental issues and incidents as they arise.

Cairns Regional Council – Bayview Heights enforcement

Acting for Cairns Regional Council in seven separate court proceedings relating to unlawful operational work and building work for the erection of a large retaining wall on steeply-sloping landslide-proneland at Bayview Heights. With a cyclone forming in far-north Queensland, urgent enforcement proceedings were brought against the owners, resulting in an undertaking being provided and works ceasing. Ultimately, the matter included four P&E Court proceedings and three Magistrates Court prosecutions, resulting in enforcement orders, rehabilitation requirements, appropriate approvals being obtained and Council recovering costs from the owners.

Toowoomba Regional Council – The Avenues of Highfields

Acting for Toowoomba Regional Council and successfully defending the first contested appeal against Council refusal of an infrastructure conversion application. Without the benefit of any legal precedent, this case involved a detailed analysis of the legislative provisions relating to conversion applications and the development of new jurisprudence in an area of law previously untested. Complicating factors in the case included that the works had commenced (and were complete by the time of judgment), therefore obscuring the Council’s abilities to impose ‘necessary infrastructure conditions’ for the roadworks if converted to trunk. The hearing of the appeal was supplemented by a separate declaratory proceeding brought by The Avenues. The Council was successful in both proceedings.