NSW is transitioning to a new way of managing and assessment proposals to clear native vegetation. The aim of the reforms is to enable effective agricultural land management and facilitate ecologically sustainable development outcomes. It is a risk based approach which encourages landholders to avoid and minimise any potential impacts on biodiversity. Impacts that cannot be avoided are required to be offset.

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 commenced on 25 August 2017. These changes introduced a Biodiversity Offset Scheme (BOS). The Reforms introduce a flexible delivery of offsets and a consistent method for measuring the required offset called the ‘Biodiversity Assessment Method’ (BAM).

The Office of Local Government is collaborating with other relevant state agencies to ensure that a clear and consistent approach is provided to Councils and landholders.

Over the next six months, Councils will be adjusting to a new assessment and approvals system.

A decision support tool to assist Councils to choose the correct assessment pathway for applications is now available: Biodiversity Assessment and Approvals navigator

A network of regionally based support officers will be available in 2018 to assist Councils to increase their capacity to implement these important reforms.