A Foley Labor Government will review and replace the Liberals’ watered down biodiversity offset rules that allow unjustifiable loss of habitat and wildlife – to ensure we have a thriving environment alongside a thriving economy.
Biodiversity offsets help mitigate impacts of clearing for development on flora and fauna, to manage the competing demands of economic activity and environmental protection.
The offset process means accepting some loss of flora or fauna, provided it is ‘replaced’ or enhanced elsewhere. Done poorly, offsetting can lead to a decline in biodiversity.
The Liberals have watered down rules around biodiversity offsets – particularly since the Biodiversity Policy for Major Projects was introduced in 2014. Under this policy, developers clearing land with biodiversity values can essentially put money into a fund instead of protecting a similar habitat elsewhere.
Under Labor, biodiversity offsetting will reflect Labor’s commitment to a planning system that balances the demands of economic activity, environmental protection and community concern.
Labor will develop a revised biodiversity offsetting policy built on the key foundations of:
- ‘like for like’ offsetting, within a reasonable geographic proximity
- no ‘net-loss’ biodiversity outcomes and ideally ‘net-positive’ outcomes
- recognition that some high conservation value lands must be off-limits to off-setting
- NSW Labor will design our offsets policy with reference to the principles identified by The International Council on Mining and Minerals and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. These principles include equivalence and permanence. They also acknowledge that some areas cannot be offset.
- The Liberals’ Biodiversity Policy for Major Projects does not deliver ‘net positive’ biodiversity outcomes, it does not preclude areas of high conservation value from off-setting, it weakens the ‘like for like’ concept central to effective off-setting and allows for alternatives that include putting money into a general fund. This policy is in a transitional stage and will come into full effect within the next twelve months.