Karen Trainor

Clayton Utz
Partner Brisbane

[Karen Trainor] really understands our business, gives clear and frank advice and solutions. She is accessible and proactive and is friendly and easy to deal with.

– Chambers Asia Pacific


Karen Trainor has worked in the environmental and planning law field for the past 20 years, and her expertise in this field has been recognised by her inclusion in Chambers Global, World's Leading Lawyers for Business.

She is well regarded as a trusted adviser to many public and private sector entities on their corporate environmental compliance, in strategic management of environment and planning development approvals and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for major infrastructure. Her client base includes energy, mining, manufacturing and government entities.

With an in-depth understanding of the approval processes, both at the State and Commonwealth level, Karen provides advice to many public and private companies on infrastructure projects, master planned communities, major projects, corporate compliance and strategic management of environmental issues.

Notable Work
  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for infrastructure: Karen has advised on a number of EPBC Act, State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act), Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) and Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld) (IPA) approvals for major projects including:
    • Electricity augmentation Kareeya Innisfail
    • Major tunnel and road infrastructure projects
    • Yabulu Nickel plant expansion;
    • Curragh North mine
    • Aldoga Aluminium Smelter;
    • Rolleston Rail Project.
    • Blackwater Creek mine expansion.
  • Review of legislative proposals for the EPBC Act: Karen has also assisted the Commonwealth in the review of legislative proposals for the EPBC Act and the legislation associated with implementation of the National Environmental Protection Measures.
  • Heritage experience: Karen is the former Deputy Chair of the Queensland Heritage Council and has developed a keen understanding of the issues facing her government clients in balancing its custodial obligation to preserve and manage heritage, with the maintenance of capability and resources required to manage this estate. Karen provided advice on the roll in of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 under the IPA. Karen has been specifically briefed to assist and provide comments for the Property Council of Australia on the most recent proposed round of heritage amendments.
  • North South Bypass Tunnel: Karen managed the legal work on the EIS for the Tunnel, providing peer review and guidance on legal issues for the EIS process. Karen also advised as to the approval process for the Tunnel, including consideration as to whether the project should proceed to a significant project or commit infrastructure designation.
  • Airport Link: Karen advised on the EIS process for the Airport Link Project. She also assisted in preparation of the Request for Project Change recently given approval by the Coordinator-General, allowing the project to proceed to financial close.
  • Environmental Legal Training: Karen has conducted on-site training sessions for one of her major energy clients on their Environmental Management System Awareness processes. The legal training focused on the environmental obligations under the Environmental Protection Act, case studies relevant to the industry and the legal protection and benefits available through implementing Environmental Management Systems.
  • Isaac Plains litigation: Karen successfully conducted the Federal Court of Australia challenge to a mining approval under the EPBC Act to prevent the mine proceeding without an assessment of climate change impacts.
    Coal Seam Methane: Karen advised on approvals for coal seam methane projects and the reuse of associated water in Central Queensland.
  • Coal Mine: Karen advised on the environmental assessment process for a coal mine, including management plans under the EPBC Act. This was one of the first accredited assessments undertaken under the bilateral agreements between Queensland and the Commonwealth.
  • Coal Seam Methane: Karen advised on approvals for coal seam methane projects and the reuse of associated water in Central Queensland.
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