Nature conservation

Biodiversity

NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects

The NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects commenced on 1 October 2014 and applies to state significant development and state significant infrastructure under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects, PDF 331KB commenced on 1 October 2014. The policy clarifies, standardises and improves biodiversity offsetting for major project approvals. The policy applies to state significant development and state significant infrastructure under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, such as highways, mines and hospitals.

The policy aims to strike an effective balance between the needs of proponents, communities and the environment by:

  • providing clear, efficient and certain guidance for stakeholders
  • improving outcomes for the environment and communities
  • providing a practical and achievable offset scheme for proponents.

Framework for Biodiversity Assessment

The policy is underpinned by the Framework for Biodiversity Assessment (FBA), PDF 1.27MB. The FBA sets out the process for:

  • assessing biodiversity impacts on a proposed development site
  • determining the biodiversity offset requirements for those impacts.

An inconsistency has been identified between the FBA and the policy regarding the circumstances where an offset is not required due to vegetation being below a certain condition condition level.The practice note - Offset threshold for vegetation below a certain condition level, PDF 91 KB, has been released to correct this inconsistency.

Credit calculator

The credit calculator is a web application that should be used in conjunction with the FBA and the BioBanking Assessment Methodology (the methodology). The credit calculator allows ecological consultants and industry groups to:

  • assess the biodiversity on a proposed development site, in conjunction with the FBA
  • calculate the number and type of credits required to offset the impacts of a major project on biodiversity
  • calculate the number and type of credits to be created on a biobank site
  • estimate the approximate area of land required for an offset.

Additional instructions for the new linear module are provided in the explanation sheet for calculations and input into the linear module (PDF 515KB).

A user name and password are required to access the calculator. User names and passwords are allocated by OEH to accredited BioBanking Assessors.

In addition to the credit calculator, a spreadsheet calculator, exl 41 KB has been developed to assist assessors to calculate biodiversity credits generated from mine site rehabilitation (Section 12.2 of the FBA).

Transitional implementation arrangements

This policy commenced a 12–18 month transitional implementation period on 1 October 2014. During this period, proponents and the consent authority will apply the policy to new major projects and certain existing projects in consultation with proponents. There will be some flexibility in the policy's application to address any technical or administrative issues.

During the transitional implementation period, additional options are available for securing offsets for projects approved prior to the implementation of the policy on 1 October 2014, or projects that were in a late stage of their planning approval process at this time. Additional guidance is available at the page Interim options for securing an offset site.

NSW Biodiversity Offsets Fund

The NSW Biodiversity Offsets Fund (the fund) will be developed over the policy's 12–18 month transitional implementation period.

The fund will allow proponents to satisfy their offset requirement via a monetary contribution into the fund. The fund will then purchase offsets on their behalf. This will increase certainty for proponents and will enable a more strategic approach to locating and purchasing offsets.

It is intended that the fund program manager will work closely with landowners to promote and source offset sites, to help them receive stewardship payments for managing biodiversity on their land.

Consultation on the policy

The Draft NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects was released for public consultation. The consultation period ended on Friday 9 May 2014.

Submissions

Public input into the draft policy was very constructive. A total of 72 submissions were received from key stakeholders including local government, individuals, local community groups, development organisations, environmental groups and professional associations. Individual submissions are available except when authors stated they did not want their submission published.

OEH has prepared an analysis of stakeholder submissions, PDF 437KB, which:

  • outlines and addresses the various issues raised by stakeholders during the public consultation period
  • recommends changes to the draft policy resulting from the submissions. 

More information

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Page last updated: 18 April 2016