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Conservation And Development Outcomes To Improve Under NSW Biodiversity Reforms – Environmental Law

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The NSW Government has finalised the Cumberland Plain
Conservation Plan and announced the establishment of a Biodiversity
Credits Supply Fund and Taskforce. These initiatives seek to
simplify the biodiversity assessment process for parts of Western
Sydney and fast track the acquisition of biodiversity credits
throughout NSW while improving conservation outcomes.


  • The NSW Government has finalised the Cumberland Plain
    Conservation Plan (Conservation Plan) under the
    Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (NSW) (BC
    ). The Conservation Plan removes the need for
    biodiversity assessment for development in parts of Western Sydney
    while providing measures to deliver conservation outcomes.

  • The Government has also announced the establishment of a new
    Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund (Fund) and a
    Credits Supply Taskforce (Taskforce), which will
    improve the operation of the biodiversity offsets scheme under the
    BC Act.

  • The Taskforce will coordinate conservation efforts and acquire
    and onsell biodiversity credits through the Fund, which aims to
    make it easier for proponents to acquire credits while encouraging
    the supply of credits.

Finalisation of the Conservation Plan

The finalised Conservation Plan comprises a package of
documents. These include:

  • a biodiversity certification order made under
    s 8.2
    of the BC Act, which confers biodiversity certification
    on land in Western Sydney specified as “urban capable
    land” and “major transport corridor” — this
    means that, under
    s 8.4
    of the BC Act, development on the certified land does not
    require further assessment of biodiversity impacts;

  • the main Conservation Plan, which
    comprises the approved conservation measures that are preconditions
    to the biodiversity certification under
    ss 8.3
    of the BC Act — these include 26 commitments made by
    the Minister for Planning, such as avoiding and minimising impacts
    on high biodiversity value areas and avoiding impacts on protected
    koala habitats;

  • two sub-plans which provide more detail about
    the implementation of the commitments and the conservation of the
    Southern Sydney koala population; and

  • a mapping tool that shows
    (among other things) the certified land.

This package of documents provide significant benefits to
proponents of projects on the certified land, as it removes the
need for assessment of biodiversity impacts. At the same time, the
approved conservation measures will help deliver the positive
conservation outcomes set out in the main Conservation Plan.

The Fund

To improve the operation of the biodiversity offsets scheme
under the BC Act, the NSW Government has announced that it will
dedicate $107 million to the establishment of the Fund. The Fund
will buy biodiversity credits upfront, onsell them to proponents,
and reinvest the proceeds to acquire additional credits.

The Fund is expected to start buying credits from September 2022
and will provide an alternative for proponents who will be able to
buy credits from the Fund rather than from the market at large.

The NSW Government hopes that the Fund will fast track the
acquisition of biodiversity credits, making it easier for
proponents to offset biodiversity impacts.

At the same time, Fund aims to improve conservation outcomes by
supporting landholders to enter into biodiversity stewardship
agreements that generate priority credits.

The Taskforce

The Taskforce will be established to administer the acquisition
of biodiversity credits through the Fund. The Taskforce will seek
to minimise costs for proponents and reduce the need for proponents
to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet their offset

The Taskforce will also aim to enhance conservation outcomes by
contributing to a cohesive biodiversity strategy for the State and
assisting with the assessment of land for addition to the national
park estate.

Next steps

The finalisation of the Conservation Plan and the establishment
of Fund and the Taskforce are generally favourable to developers,
as they seek to streamline biodiversity assessments for parts of
Western Sydney, as well as the process for acquiring biodiversity
credits throughout the State. At the same time, they seek to
deliver conservation outcomes through the approved conservation
measures set out in the Conservation Plan and encouraging increased
supply of biodiversity credits.

If you would like to understand what these initiatives mean for
you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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