Do you have a project in the pipeline where environmental impacts are unavoidable? If so, you may be required to offset the damage under the State Governments new Biodiversity Offset Policy.
The policy, which came into force on 3 October 2011, has been designed to ensure development occurs with no net loss of biodiversity. Where areas of ‘State significant biodiversity values’ are damaged, the developer must either allocate an equivalent area of land for protection or provide an offset payment.
Development affected by the policy includes level 1 mining, petroleum and gas projects, Environmentally Relevant Activities, development in the coastal zone and earthworks in a wetland protection area. A biodiversity offset may be set as a condition of approval where it can be proved that the environmental impact is unavoidable. In most cases, development for urban purposes within an urban area will not require an offset.
The process works by identifying a regional ecosystem of equivalent size and biodiversity value as the proposed area to be cleared or damaged. The identified area must then be legally secured and managed, ensuring its biodiversity is protected from future development. The developer can choose to undertake this privately or provide an offset payment for it to be carried out by a third party.
Habitats which may contain State significant biodiversity values include, but are not limited to, wetlands, watercourses, eucalypt and melaleuca forests, rainforest, remnant scrub, native grassland, mangroves and brigalow woodlands.
To find out if your project may impact on any of these habitats, visit the Department of Environment and Resource Management website or contact a qualified environmental consultant.