Local government resources for biodiversity conservation and management

Local government is a key partner in the conservation and management of biodiversity and threatened species in New South Wales.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) commenced on 25 August 2017. This page provides a resource for local government to support implementation of the new biodiversity assessment and approval framework.

Commencement of the Biodiversity Offset Scheme

From 25 November 2019, any new application for development consent or modification to an approved development under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A) (not including State Significant Development (SSD)) is subject to the biodiversity assessment requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Interim Designated Areas

From 25 November 2018, the biodiversity impacts of new development applications (or modifications) under Part 4 of the EP&A Act (except for SSD) submitted in the following areas must be assessed in accordance with the BC Act:

  • Cessnock local government area (LGA)
  • Newcastle LGA
  • Port Stephens LGA
  • Lake Macquarie LGA
  • Maitland LGA
  • Central Coast LGA
  • Coffs Harbour LGA
  • West Dapto Urban Release Area in the Wollongong LGA

From 25 November 2019, the biodiversity impacts of new development applications (or modifications) under Part 4 of the EP&A Act (except for SSD) submitted in the following LGAs must be assessed in accordance with the BC Act:

  • Camden
  • City of Campbelltown
  • City of Fairfield
  • City of Hawkesbury
  • City of Liverpool
  • City of Penrith
  • Wollondilly

Development applications submitted before these dates will continue to be assessed in accordance with former planning provisions.

Development assessment

The BC Act, together with the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, outlines the framework for assessment and approval of biodiversity impacts associated with developments that require consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The Act introduces a Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. A development to which the Biodiversity Offset Scheme applies will be required to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report to accompany a development application.

More information on the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is available.

Biodiversity certification is another key tool under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 that is important for local government and is integrated in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

More information about biodiversity certification.

Vegetation management

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP) regulates the clearing of vegetation in urban local government areas, as well as urban and environmental zones across the State, where clearing does not otherwise require development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) regulates the management of vegetation on rural land. Read more about when the LLS Act applies at Native Vegetation Regulatory Maps.

The Biodiversity Offset Scheme will also apply to certain vegetation clearing activities regulated by the Vegetation SEPP and the LLS Act. Read more about when the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme applies.

Read more about the Vegetation SEPP, including Frequently Asked Questions for Councils, at NSW Planning and Environment Vegetation SEPP.