Developers, landowners and consent authorities will need to prepare themselves for the new Biodiversity Offsets Scheme which came into effect on 25 August 2017.
The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (the BOS) forms part of a major overhaul to the NSW Government’s approach to biodiversity assessment and management introduced by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (the Act) and the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 (the Regulations).
In essence, the BOS aims to address the potential impact development will have on biodiversity. The BOS:
- creates a new risk-based approach for assessing the biodiversity impact of development and requires offsetting where development is likely to have a significant impact on biodiversity.
- establishes a system of biodiversity stewardship agreements to secure the creation of offset sites.
Considerations for developers and landowners
- You will need to consider whether proposed development will have impacts above the BOS threshold set out under the Act and the Regulations.
- The threshold test has two elements: an area trigger and a Biodiversity Values Map trigger. The BOS will apply if clearing exceeds either of these triggers. If the threshold is met, you will also have to consider how impacts to biodiversity will be avoided, minimised or offset. The "Biodiversity Assessment Method" will need to be applied to work out the offset obligation.
Consent authorities will also need to familiarise themselves with the new requirements for biodiversity management and assessment.
The Regulations contain a variety of transitional provisions which extend the deadline to comply with the BOS. The length of the extension depends on the category and location of the proposed development and the current progress of your application.
Existing biodiversity credits or credit obligations remain valid under the Act.
The Office of Environment & Heritage is developing a number of interactive tools to assist developers, landholders and local government with the scheme.
Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016
Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017
Office of Environment & Heritage: Biodiversity Offset Scheme