If you’re a developer, the coming NSW biodiversity conservation and land management reforms mean you need to sit up and pay attention.
Mired in considerable complexity, the Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reform Package includes two bills. These will replace the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, Native Vegetation Act 2003 and Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001. As part of the reforms, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016, assented to on 23 November 2016, are scheduled to commence in mid-2017.
The State Government says the NSW biodiversity conservation and land management reforms will “cut red tape, facilitate ecologically sustainable development and conserve biodiversity across NSW”.
While the government’s intentions are positive, the NSW biodiversity conservation and land management reforms are complex and represent a major overhaul of the State’s biodiversity conservation laws. In simple terms, they pave the way to significant changes in the way biodiversity impacts are considered in the development assessment and approval process.
It’s also worth noting, the BC Act is yet to come into force formally, that regulations accompanying the BC Act have not yet been released – and most significantly – the BC Act does not contain transitional provisions, which will be set out in regulation.
What do the NSW biodiversity conservation and land management reforms mean?
These changes are big news for developers of any projects in NSW and, in some cases, it means paying more attention to how the changes impact projects. Without a current understanding of the changes and impacts, a developer may find themselves falling short in the project approvals process.
Are you a developer and keen to avoid pitfalls under the new reforms? We’ve identified some of the major changes that will affect non-State significant development under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (‘non-major projects’), particularly in relation to biodiversity offsets. This is relevant for projects like medium sized commercial, retail and industrial developments.
Where to from here for developers with projects in NSW?
The NSW Government will undertake subsequent stages of consultation on more detailed components of the package between now and the commencement of the proposed legislation including, draft regulations and the BAM.
Given the proposed legislation contains very little detailed information about how these significant changes will actually impact on proposed developments, the details in the yet to be released BAM and regulations will be of critical importance to developers and their projects’ success. Of particular importance to developers that recently lodged, or are about to lodge, a development application, will be the transitional provisions and understanding the options available to them in the acquittal of offset obligations under the new legislation.
Want to understand more about how the NSW biodiversity conservation and land management reforms might impact your development project? Talk to CO2 Australia today. We’re an environmental consultancy experienced in carbon and biodiversity offset management and environmental approvals and can help you navigate a successful approval pathway.
Written by Rebecca Enright, Senior Manager CO2 Australia, an environmental consultancy experienced in carbon and biodiversity offset management and environmental approvals