Leanne O'Brien

Special Counsel



Leanne specialises in local government, environmental and planning law, including heritage conservation matters and quasi-criminal prosecutions.

Having acted for Queensland local governments for over 20 years, Leanne understands the full spectrum of legislation and issues affecting local government.

She has broad experience across a range of areas, including waste and waste tracking, contaminated land, pollution and water pollution, building, plumbing and drainage, environmental compliance and regulatory matters, planning offences and governance issues.

In 2017, Leanne was a member of the Minister’s Heritage Working Group formed for the advancement of heritage related issues in Queensland, and she previously served two terms as a member of the Queensland Heritage Council. Leanne is the author of a legal text entitled The Enforcement of Planning and Environmental Laws in Queensland.

Key deals

Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL)

Acted for QAL in relation to environmental compliance and planning matters, including matters pertaining to environmental compliance and reporting obligations and representing QAL in enforcement proceedings and prosecution proceedings initiated by the Department in respect of pollution incidents.


Acted for QGC in enforcement proceedings under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Environmental Assessment System (EAS) (formerly Preliminary Environmental Assessment Tool)

Provided primary legal input to the manager of EAS, including addressing specific queries from local government officers. These queries typically related to specific issue related legislation such as the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the Vegetation Management Act 1999 and the Water Act 2000.