Anna Vella

Special Counsel
Baker & McKenzie


Anna Vella is a special counsel in our Environment and Climate Change group in Brisbane. With over 20 years of experience and substantial expertise in all aspects of environment and planning law, Anna has represented a number of high profile, blue chip, public and government clients in the delivery of infrastructure and major projects.

Practice Focus

Anna provides specialist advice in relation to various local, state and federal environment and planning assessment, approval and regulatory processes, environmental enforcement and compliance, contaminated land, vegetation, water and other natural resource matters.

Her familiarity with development, planning and environmental issues and licencing and approval requirements is particularly beneficial in advising clients to help them achieve project delivery.

Spanning projects varying from airport expansions, port development to renewable energy projects, Anna has extensive experience working on major project planning and approval pathways, project agreements, climate change, ESG, biodiversity, heritage, land contamination and remediation, along with environmental compliance.

Anna is an experienced solicitor advocate who has represented clients in the Queensland Magistrate's Court, the Planning and Environment Court, the Land Court of Queensland, the Supreme Court of Queensland, the Queensland Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australia.

In additional to her practical experience, Anna has been a sessional lecturer in planning law in both the Law and Built Environment faculties at the Queensland University of Technology and for the last 17 years, has been a co-author of the leading industry publication in relation to planning and development in Queensland, as published by Thomson Reuters.

Representative Legal Matters

Energy transition and decarbonisation projects

  • Advising and having carriage of proceedings for ESCO Pacific in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland to successfully overturn a project refusal and enable development of a solar farm on good quality agricultural land, which was the first proceeding of its type in Australia*
  • Acted for Lightsource bp in relation to various solar farm acquisitions and project approval requirements*
  • Acted for Origin Energy in relation to various solar farm acquisitions and project approval requirements*
  • Advising project financiers in relation to a pilot carbon capture and storage project in Queensland, Australia*
  • Advising and acting for RATCH-Australia Corporation Limited in relation to the development, operation and compliance issues associated with various existing and proposed wind farm projects in Queensland, Australia*

Major projects, planning and environment

  • Advised and having carriage for planning and approval matters for Dexus in relation to the AUD 2.5 billion Waterfront Brisbane redevelopment of Eagle Street Pier, including successfully defeating a third party legal challenge to project approvals*
  • Advising and having carriage of proceedings for Telstra in the Planning Environment Court of Queensland, in respect of contested planning appeals as well as the interpretation and application of statutory development powers and immunities*
  • Leading the environmental legal review and advice team in Queensland Motorway Limited's AUD 7.05 billion sale of tolled tunnel, bridge and motorway assets*
  • Advising Gladstone Ports Corporation about environmental approval requirements, strategy and processes for existing and future projects and strategic port planning issues, reviewing and providing strategic direction in the preparation of new port land use plans, environmental compliance, contamination risks and priority port planning issues*
  • Advising the State of Queensland about town planning and environmental issues and delivery requirements associated with various projects, including: integrated agricultural projects, expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport, the Cairns Shipping Port development, expansion of the port at Abbot Point, priority development areas across Queensland and liquefied natural gas field development projects*
  • Acting for Stockland in Planning and Environment Court proceedings in relation to various shopping centre developments*
  • Advising Brisbane Airport Corporation in relation to the requirements for and securing environmental approvals for the development of the New Parallel Runway project at Brisbane Airport*
  • Advising on contaminated law matters across various industry sectors and managing statutory and common law risks and exposure - including for the Department of Defence (Cth), the Queensland government, BHP, Rio Tinto and the Canberra Airport*
  • Advising BHP in relation to historical and future environmental liability and risk issues for existing and historical mining operations, as part of the acquisition of new assets and asset divestment*
  • Advising Rio Tinto, Glencore, BHP and Pembroke Resources in relation to resource development opportunities, environmental constraints, approval and structuring options, assessment requirements and processes (on and off-lease)*


  • Advising private corporations on environmental licensing, compliance and enforcement
  • Advising private corporations on greenwashing issues and risks

*Experience prior to joining Baker McKenzie

Professional Honors

  • Best Lawyers in Australia, Planning and Environment Law, 2023
  • Leading Queensland Environment and Heritage Lawyer, Doyle's Guide, 2020 - 2022
  • Australian Environment and Planning Rising Star, The Legal 500, 2022

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Law Council of Australia, Australian Environmental and Planning Group, Queensland representative (since 2019)
  • Queensland Environmental Law Association


  • Supreme Court of Queensland~Australia (2000)
  • High Court of Australia~Australia (2000)


  • Queensland University of Technology (Graduate Diploma Legal Practice) (2000)
  • Queensland University of Technology (LLB) (1999)
  • Queensland University of Technology (B. App Sc (Ecology) ) (1999)


  • English

Co-author, "Planning and Development Queensland," Research and commentary publication by Thomson Reuters. 2006 - Present

Co-author, "Court recommends that project not proceed due to climate change and human rights impacts," Baker McKenzie, November 2022

Co-author, "The Changing Australian Climate - parliament introduces new climate change legislation," King & Wood Mallesons, July 2022

Co-author, "Climate change litigation and intergenerational equity: the relevance of "indirect" emissions for project approvals," Thomson Reuters, September 2021

Co-author, "Single touch environmental approvals proposed under first tranche of EPBC Act reforms," King & Wood Mallesons, September 2020

Co-author, "The EPBC Act Review Interim Report - Fundamental Reform Recommended," King & Wood Mallesons, July 2020