The role of local government and other decision makers

A number of government agencies have a statutory responsibility to assess and determine applications when the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme applies, including local government and other decision-makers.

Decision-makers

Decision-makers in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) include:

  • consent authorities for development applications under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act)
  • the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces for activities under Part 5.1 of the EP&A Act; 
  • determining authorities for activities under Part 5 of the EP&A Act; 
  • the Native Vegetation Panel for approvals for clearing native vegetation under s.60ZF of the Local Land Services Act 2013 and approvals under clause 14 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in non-rural areas) 2017;
  • the Minister for Environment and Energy in relation to biodiversity certification under Part 8 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) and biodiversity stewardship agreements under Part 5.5 of the BC Act.

Decision-makers in the BOS receive Biodiversity Assessment Reports (BARs) as part of an application for a planning, vegetation clearing or other approval. These decision-makers have the power to critically review and seek clarification or modifications to a BAR before approving (or otherwise) the proposal to which the BAR relates. They also consider other matters relating to the impact of the proposal on biodiversity values.

If the proposal is approved, the decision-maker may condition measures to avoid or minimise impacts on biodiversity values. The decision-maker may also be required to condition an offset obligation as part of the terms of approval. 

Local government

Local government is a decision maker for development applications under Part 4 EP&A Act. The role of local government as a decision maker is to assess and determine development applications (including applications that the BOS applies to), consider a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) associated with a development application, condition offset obligations and ensure compliance with conditions of consent.

Local government may also be a determining authority for activities under Part 5 of the EP&A Act. The role of local government as a determining authority is to consider whether the activity is likely to significantly affect threatened species and if so, undertake further assessment. There are two options available for further assessment - prepare a Species Impact Statement (SIS) or opt into the BOS. Where a local government chooses to further assess the impacts of a Part 5 activity by opting into the BOS, it must determine whether to approve the activity, consider the BDAR which assessed the impacts of the activity and set any offset obligation.