Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

Serious and irreversible impacts

The concept of serious and irreversible impacts is fundamentally about protecting threatened entities that are most at risk of extinction from potential development. The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme recognises that there are some types of serious and irreversible impacts that the community expects will not occur except where the consent authority considers that this type of impact is  outweighed by the social and economic benefits that the development will deliver to the State.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016:

  • Requires a consent authority to reject a Part 4 development (that is not State Significant Development (SSD) or State Significant Infrastructure (SSI)) or clearing proposal that they determine is likely to have a serious and irreversible impact on biodiversity values.
  • Permits the Minister for Planning to give consent to or approve SSD and SSI which is likely to have serious or irreversible impacts. The Minister must take those impacts into consideration, and determine whether there are any additional and appropriate measures that will minimise those impacts if consent or approval is to be granted.
  • Requires serious and irreversible impacts to also be a consideration for biodiversity certification applications and Part 5 activities where the proponent has chosen to opt-in to the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

Information about serious and irreversible impacts will be included in the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BCAR) prepared by accredited assessors using the BAM. The approval authority must consider whether any impact is serious and irreversible having regard to principles (see below), as well as guidance, criteria to assist in the interpretation of the principles, and lists of potential serious and irreversible impacts prepared by the Chief Executive of OEH.

See Guidance, criteria and lists of potential serious and irreversible impacts (PDF 710 KB)  as made by the Chief Executive of OEH.

The principles for determining serious and irreversible impacts are set out below.

Principles for determining serious and irreversible impacts in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017

Serious and irreversible impacts:

  • will cause a further decline of a species or ecological community that is currently observed, estimated, inferred or reasonably suspected to be in a rapid rate of decline, or
  • will further reduce the population of a species or ecological community that is currently observed, estimated, inferred, or reasonably suspected to have a very small population size, or
  • are impacts on the habitat of a species or area of ecological community that is currently observed, estimated, inferred or reasonably suspected to have a very limited geographic distribution, or
  • are impacts on a species or ecological community is unlikely to respond to measures to improve habitat and vegetation integrity and is therefore irreplaceable.
Page last updated: 30 August 2017