Bushfire rebuild exemption

A limited exemption from the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme has been made to support rebuilding after the bushfires.

Regrowth after fire discovery tour at Warrumbungle National Park. The park is the focus of a major research and recovery program by National ParksThe 2019-20 bushfire season was one of the most widespread and extreme our State has ever seen. The property damage was significant with 2476 homes destroyed and many more damaged.

The NSW Government is giving a limited exemption from the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme to help people rebuild as quickly and easily as possible.

The exemption applies to buildings or structures that were damaged or destroyed by bush fires between 5 August 2019 and 2 March 2020.

The exemption means that people rebuilding property lost in the 2019-20 bushfires will not need to assess the impact of the rebuild on biodiversity, and any biodiversity impacts will not need to be offset.

Scope of the exemption

The exemption applies to rebuilds of buildings or structures that:

  • require development consent
  • were damaged or destroyed by bushfire between 5 August 2019 and 2 March 2020
  • are the same, or substantially the same, as the building or structure that was damaged or destroyed
  • have a development application made within 2 years of the date that the Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 received assent.

The Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament on 19 November 2020.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has prepared guidance for use by councils and landholders to help users comply with this scope.

The exemption means that people rebuilding property lost in the 2019-20 bushfires will not need to assess the impact of the rebuild on biodiversity, and any biodiversity impacts will not need to be offset.

The exemption applies only to assessment and offsetting under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. Councils retain the power and responsibility to ensure all proposals meet relevant safety, environmental and other requirements under section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. This may include the consideration of biodiversity, threatened species, or other environmental impacts of a proposal including water quality, slope stabilisation or other local issues.

Find out more

For more information on the exemption, read the Bushfire Exemption fact sheet. The fact sheet provides more detailed information about how the exemption works, where it applies, and it includes contacts for further support.