Sport and Environmental Law

Sport and recreation events often impact on the built and natural environment and are therefore constrained by environmental law. It is important to check the law and by-laws in your own state or municipal area but the following will give you an idea of the complexity of laws:

No Trespass Sign


Sport and recreation participants may intentionally or accidentally use land without permission from the land owner. Entering land without permission is a legal wrongdoing called "Trespass". Sports such as Orienteering need extensive amounts of public or private land and permission must be achieved.

No noise

Noise Pollution

Sport facilities, whether indoor or outdoor, are commonly located within residential areas and are subject to laws on noise pollution. Particularly, there are restrictions on noise from 10:00pm to 7:00am in residential areas. Noise may emanate from participants, sport implements being used, crowd cheering, and cars and traffic exiting.

flood light

Light Pollution

In addition to noise restrictions, sport organisations must comply with light pollution regulations. The spill of light from floodlit sport grounds at night can be a significant problem in residential areas. However, innovation in floodlight design has reduced the escape of light away from the sporting arena.


Use of Waterways

The use of a powered water craft in rivers and estuaries must comply with speed restrictions, refuse disposal and discharge of polluting substances such as oil. Speed restrictions are necessary for safety and reducing the erosion of river banks.


Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

Sport generally does not take place in protected land or marine parks but recreation does. There is generally a myriad of rules imposed on users of protected parks to protect fauna and flora, and to ensure that the enjoyment of all park users is not spoiled. Rules often restrict where people can go, the lighting of fires, and what can be taken in and out of the park. Off-road driving and horse-riding is often restricted.

traffic policeman

Use of Roads

Sport and recreation events frequently utilise roads or cause disruption to roads. In particular, fun runs, marathons or half-marathons, and cycling road races will necessitate the involvement of police to ensure the safety of participants. Large scale events will also require the involvement of police to direct traffic while event goers arrive or leave.

recreational fishing

Fisheries Management

In most places in the world there will be some regulations that restrict recreational fishing. Often permits have to be acquired for inland waterways but also in a few cases for sea fishing. The state of New South Wales in Australia is just such a place where fees are imposed on recreational sea fishing. Laws relating to fisheries management also restrict what anglers can take home in terms of quantity and size of fish.


Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage that may be affected by recreation pursuits includes ancient or culturally important artifacts that are found on the ground, in caves, in burial grounds and shipwrecks.

Recreational pursuits that may affect cultural heritage include bushwalking, ultra-marathons, and diving. In Australia, there is separate legislation that protects cultural artifacts (moveable cultural heritage) and shipwrecks older than 75 years.



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