Proposed changes to the biodiversity offsets scheme deferred

The NSW Government invited submissions on proposed changes to the way that payments to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust are determined under the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

The Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment (the Department) recently completed consultation on the proposed transfer of the Biodiversity Offsets Payment Calculator (BOPC) to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) under transitional arrangements and the proposed removal of the BOPC from public view.

These changes are intended to:

  • support better functioning of the biodiversity offsets market
  • support reliable pricing of credits by the BCT
  • prevent the use of the BOPC causing unintended distortions in market valuations.

Public engagement in the consultation resulted in over 1400 submissions.

There were several themes of consultation feedback, including that:

  • there was a broad lack of support for a transfer of responsibility for the BOPC to the BCT in May 2021 under transitional arrangements
  • there was strong support for the BCT completing its planned stakeholder consultation on a long-term replacement for the current BOPC. This consultation should inform any transfer to the BCT or the removal of the BOPC from the public view
  • additional market information should be provided to assist with private and public planning decisions
  • assurance measures should be put in place for any revised BOPC to give the market confidence
  • additional actions should be considered to improve the supply of biodiversity offset credits.

Response to feedback

The Department is committed to addressing this consultation feedback in a timely manner. 

The Department will defer the proposed transfer of the BOPC to the BCT, and its removal from public view, to allow the BCT to complete its consultations on a long-term replacement for the BOPC. These consultations are expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The Department also reiterates that the BOPC is intended to provide a charge, or fee, for developers using the BCT to meet their offset liabilities and should not be relied upon for other purposes. This is because the BOPC is an econometric model that provides estimates of biodiversity credit prices based on statistical information. Given relatively limited trading data, and the lack of depth in the biodiversity credit market, these estimates may materially deviate from the actual cost of the BCT acquitting biodiversity credits at any point in time, particularly for less actively traded credit classes. This feature of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will be reviewed as a long-term framework to replace the current BOPC is developed, in consultation with interested stakeholders.

How can I comment?

Further consultation on a new developer charge model is expected to commence shortly. It will focus on the new method and will be led by the BCT. Stakeholder participation in this process is encouraged. 

Please contact us at biodiversity@environment.nsw.gov.au if you have any questions.