Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 No 63
Part 9 Public consultation and public registers
Division 1 Public consultation
9.1 Public consultation required on documents under this Act to which Division applies
(1) This Division applies to the following (a public consultation document)—(a) a proposed declaration of an area as an area of outstanding biodiversity value,(b) a proposed code of practice that is to be made by the Minister under section 2.9,(c) a strategy included in the Biodiversity Conservation Program in relation to a threatened species or ecological community,(d) the Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy,(e) the biodiversity assessment method,(f) the scheme for the accreditation of persons to prepare biodiversity assessment reports.(2) Public consultation in accordance with this Division is required before a public consultation document is made.(3) A reference in this Division to making a public consultation document includes a reference to issuing, adopting or publishing a public consultation document.
9.2 Minimum public exhibition period for proposed public consultation documents
(1) Before a public consultation document is made, the proposed document is to be made publicly available for a period of at least 4 weeks.(2) The person making the public consultation document may extend the period of public consultation for the proposed document.
9.3 Submissions about proposed public consultation documents
(1) During the period of public consultation on a proposed public consultation document, any person may make a written submission to the person making the document.(2) The person making the public consultation document may (but need not) make publicly available the submissions made on the proposed document (or a summary of or report on any such submissions).(3) Before a person makes a public consultation document, the person is to consider any submissions made on the proposed document.(4) If the person making the public consultation document is not the Environment Agency Head, the person is, before making the document, to consider any recommendations made by the Environment Agency Head in relation to submissions made on the proposed document.(5) If substantial changes are proposed to be made to a proposed document following public consultation, the person making the document may require further public consultation in accordance with this Division on the revised proposed document.
9.4 Amendment of public consultation documents
(1) This Division applies to any amendment of a public consultation document in the same way as it applies to the making of a public consultation document.(2) However, the person making a public consultation document may dispense with public consultation under this Division on any amendment if satisfied that it should be dispensed with because of the minor nature or urgency of the matter.
9.5 Validity of public consultation documents
A failure to comply with a requirement under this Division in relation to a proposed public consultation document or proposed amendment does not prevent the document from being made or amended, or invalidate the document once it is made or amended.
9.6 Regulations relating to public consultation
The regulations may make further provision for or with respect to public consultation under this Division.
Division 2 Public registers
9.7 Registers to which Division applies
(1) Public registers of the following are to be kept and made available in accordance with this Division—(a) biodiversity conservation licences (including the conditions of those licences) and all decisions made to vary, suspend or cancel those licences,(b) declarations of areas of outstanding biodiversity value under Part 3 and any amendment or revocation of a declaration,(c) private land conservation agreements under Part 5, including details of any variation or cancellation of any such agreement,(d) biodiversity credits under Part 6, including documents creating the credits, the number and class (if any) of the credits, the name of the current and former holders of the credits and details relating to all transfers, suspensions, cancellations and retirement of the credits,(e) the persons who are accredited persons under section 6.10,(f) orders made under Part 8 conferring, extending, suspending, revoking or modifying biodiversity certification of land,(g) interim protection orders in force under Division 3 of Part 11,(h) remediation orders in force under Division 4 of Part 11,(i) strategies included in the Biodiversity Conservation Program in relation to a threatened species or ecological community,(j) any other register of information relating to the administration of this Act or biodiversity conservation that is prescribed by the regulations.(2) The Environment Agency Head is responsible for keeping and making available any such public register.(3) The Environment Agency Head may engage the Biodiversity Conservation Trust or other persons or bodies to keep (or to assist in keeping) any such public register on behalf of the Environment Agency Head.(4) Any such register may be kept only in electronic form.
9.8 Registers to be available on government website
Public registers required to be kept under this Division are to be made available on a government website maintained by the Environment Agency Head.
9.9 Providing other access to registers
An extract from a public register required to be kept under this Division is (subject to the regulations) to be made available on request by any person on payment of a reasonable fee determined by the Environment Agency Head.
9.10 Restriction of access to certain information in registers
(1) The Environment Agency Head may restrict access to information in a public register required to be kept under this Division (including a register that relates to a declared area of outstanding biodiversity value) if the Environment Agency Head is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so or is authorised by the regulations to do so.(2) The Environment Agency Head is to make restricted access information in any such public register available to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust if the Agency Head is satisfied that the information is required in connection with the exercise of the Trust’s functions under this Act.(3) If access to information that relates to a declared area of outstanding biodiversity value is restricted, a person has a defence to a prosecution under this Act for damaging the area if the person establishes that he or she did not know that it was a declared area.(4) Access to information on a public register required to be kept under this Division is to be restricted if its disclosure would contravene the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.
9.11 Regulations relating to public registers
The regulations may make further provision for or with respect to public registers required to be kept under this Division (including the information required to be included in the registers and the correction of the registers).