Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 No 63
6.2 Biodiversity offsets scheme
The biodiversity offsets scheme under this Act and related legislation has the following key elements—(a) The establishment of biodiversity stewardship sites on land by means of biodiversity stewardship agreements entered into between the Minister and the owners of the land concerned. Management actions will be required to be carried out on the sites by the owners under those agreements and will be funded from the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund.(b) The creation of biodiversity credits in respect of those management actions to be held initially by the owners of those sites following a report by an accredited person on the biodiversity value of those management actions.(c) A system for those biodiversity credits to be traded (and thereby enable them to be acquired by developers or other persons who have an obligation to retire biodiversity credits under the scheme). When those credits are first transferred (or retired by the owners of the sites without being first transferred), the Biodiversity Stewardship Payments Fund is to be reimbursed for the payments to be made in future to fund the required management actions on the site that enabled the creation of those credits.(d) In relation to proposed development above a threshold prescribed by the regulations under this Act or proposed clearing of native vegetation not authorised without approval—biodiversity assessment and reports by accredited persons about the biodiversity values of the land concerned and the impacts on those values of the proposed development or clearing, and of the biodiversity conservation measures (including the retirement of biodiversity credits) proposed to offset the residual impact on biodiversity values after action that is required to be taken to avoid or minimise that impact. Those biodiversity assessment reports are to be taken into consideration in the determination under relevant legislation of the grant of (and biodiversity conservation actions required under) planning approvals for the proposed development or vegetation clearing approvals for the proposed clearing.(e) In relation to environmental impact assessment of proposed activities under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979—the option for proponents of those activities to use those biodiversity assessment reports and offsetting measures to comply with their obligations under that Part.(f) In relation to future development in an area—biodiversity assessment and reports by accredited persons about the area and biodiversity certification of that part of the area where future development may be carried out without further biodiversity impact assessment. The impact on biodiversity values of the clearing of native vegetation and the loss of habitat in the area of future development is to be offset by the retirement of biodiversity credits or other conservation measures in connection with the remainder of the area or other areas (or both).(g) As an alternative to any requirement under the scheme to retire biodiversity credits—the payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund of an amount equivalent to the cost of acquiring those credits determined in accordance with an offsets payment calculator. The Biodiversity Conservation Trust will be under an obligation to later secure biodiversity offsets from the money paid into the Fund.(h) The establishment of a biodiversity assessment method for use by accredited persons in biodiversity assessment and reports under the scheme.(i) The determination in accordance with principles prescribed by the regulations under this Act of serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values. The determination of such an impact by the relevant decision-maker will prevent the grant of planning approval for proposed development, but the determination will only be required to be taken into consideration in the case of State significant development or infrastructure, in the case of environmental impact assessment of certain proposed activities or in the case of proposals for the biodiversity certification of land.