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Biodiversity assessment and approvals navigator

Navigator: identifying your pathway for required biodiversity assessment and approvals 

 

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, Local Land Services Act 2013, Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 together regulate land management and biodiversity conservation in NSW.

Assessment and approval pathways for biodiversity impacts will depend upon the purpose, nature, location and extent of the vegetation clearing. In some cases you may be required to obtain development consent or a native vegetation clearing approval. You may need to engage an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report in accordance with the Biodiversity Assessment Method and to submit that report with your application for consent or approval. In other cases you may not be required to obtain a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report but may need to obtain a permit from the local council to carry out clearing.

If you are required to obtain a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report, the conditions of an approval or consent will likely require you to retire biodiversity credits.

The requirement to obtain a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report in certain circumstances and for the conditions of a consent or approval to require the retirement of biodiversity credits is part of what is described as the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

 

What vegetation clearing assessment and approvals apply to me?

Use the below questions to navigate the land management and biodiversity conservation framework to figure out which approvals apply to your vegetation clearing.

 

Biodiversity Disclaimer


 

Unsure?  Visit the NSW Planning Portal to search for planning information relating to your property and your local council’s website to view the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for planning controls in your area.

Yes – If the activity is likely to significantly affect threatened species a Species Impact Statement or, if the proponent chooses, a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report, must be prepared. Where a Minister is the determining authority under Part 5, the Minister is required to consult the Minister for the Environment if the activity is likely to significantly affect threatened species, unless the Minister has ‘opted in’ to the Biodiversity Offset Scheme by engaging an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report. If the determining authority under Part 5 is not a Minister, the determining authority is not to carry out the activity or grant approval to carry out the activity if it is likely to significantly affect threatened species without obtaining the concurrence of the Environment Agency Head. However, concurrence from the Environmental Agency Head is not required if a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report has been obtained.

For Part 5 activities, an activity is “likely to significantly affect threatened species” if it is carried out in an area of outstanding biodiversity value or likely to significantly affect threatened species or ecological communities, or their habitats, according to the test in  section 7.3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.   The biodiversity offset scheme threshold trigger does not apply.

Unsure?  Visit the Planning and Environment website for more information on assessments and approvals under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Unsure?  If your property is within the Bayside, Blacktown, Botany Bay, Burwood, Camden, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, City of Parramatta, Cumberland, City of Fairfield, Georges River, City of Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Hunter’s Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, City of Penrith, City of Randwick, Rockdale, City of Ryde, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, City of Sydney, The Hills Shire, Waverley, Willoughby or Woollahra local government area you should answer yes to this question.

Unsure?  Visit the NSW Planning Portal to search for planning information relating to your property.

Your clearing proposal will be regulated under Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013. Visit the Land Managemet and Biodiversity Conservation website for more detail.

Unsure? This clause applies in circumstances where subdivision approval has been granted on land within the nominated zones and the purpose of the approved subdivision has not yet been realised.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal to search for planning information relating to your property and your local council’s website to view the Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Contact your local council to confirm that your land has been the subject of a subdivision application approved prior to 25 August 2017 in an appropriate zone. Council will also confirm whether the purpose of the subdivision has been realised and whether the your development is consistent with the purpose of the approved subdivision.

Note: The “parts” of a proposed development includes any land required for buildings, landscaping, access roads, bushfire asset protection zones, fencing and any associated infrastructure whether temporary or permanent.

Unsure? Visit the Biodiversity Offset Scheme page to access the Biodiversity Offset Entry Threshold tool and use BMAT User Manual to digitise your development’s footprint and determine whether it occurs on the Biodiversity Values Map.

 

Note: The ”parts” of a development includes any land required for buildings, landscaping, access roads, bushfire asset protection zones, fencing and any associated infrastructure whether temporary or permanent.

What is a Bushfire Asset Protection Zone?

Development on bush fire prone land will normally require the implementation of a set-back distance which is referred to as an asset protection zone. An asset protection zone (APZ) aims to protect human life, property and highly valued assets. It is a buffer zone between a bush fire hazard and buildings, which is managed progressively to minimise fuel loads and reduce the potential radiant heat levels. For more detailed information go to http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/bush-fire-protection-measures/asset-protection-zones.

Yes – Special exemptions may apply. If the council is satisfied the vegetation to be cleared is a risk to human life or property, a permit under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 is not required. Contact your local council for advice on how to apply for this exemption.

Even though a permit or approval may not be required under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017, a Biodiversity Conservation Licence may still be required from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) if your vegetation clearing will:

  • impact on a threatened species, ecological community or protected plant;
  • impact on the habitat of a threatened species or ecological community; or
  • cause harm to an animal that is a threatened species, part of a threatened ecological community or a protected animal.

Unsure? Contact your local council for advice.

Yes – Special transitional provisions in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 may apply. This exemption only applies until 25 August 2018.

For the exemption to apply, you must be in a local government area where the LEP had not adopted sub clause 5.9 (9) of the Standard Instrument before 25 August 2017. Contact your local council for advice on the LEP prior to this date.

It is also a condition of the exemption that the land be predominantly used for agriculture. Agriculture is defined in the Standard Instrument. Contact your local council for advice.

Even though approval may not be required under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017, a Biodiversity Conservation Licence may still be required from OEH if your vegetation clearing will:

  • impact on a threatened species, ecological community or protected plant
  • impact on the habitat of a threatened species or ecological community
  • cause harm to an animal that is a threatened species, part of a threatened ecological community or a protected animal.

Unsure? Visit the NSW Planning Portal to search for planning information relating to your property and your local council’s website to view the Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Unsure? Visit the Biodiversity Offset Scheme page to access the Biodiversity Offset Entry Threshold tool and use the BMAT User Manual to digitise your clearing footprint and get advice on whether it occurs on the Biodiversity Values Map.

Yes – The Biodiversity Offset Scheme applies to your proposed development. You will need to engage an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report in accordance with the Biodiversity Assessment Method and provide this together with your application for development consent. The consent authority will use this report to consider whether to grant consent and the conditions of consent, in accordance with the requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

When calculating the amount of native vegetation being cleared for the Biodiversity Offset Scheme threshold, Category 1 land is not included in the calculation (section 7.4(2) of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016).

Unsure? Visit the Biodiversity Offset Scheme page to determine whether or not your development exceeds the biodiversity offset scheme threshold because it is exceeds the area clearing thresholds set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 and detailed in the table below.

Note that the BOSET tool does not currently include vegetation mapping in areas regulated by the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017. All clearing estimates in these areas will have to be performed outside of the tool. The User Manual provides guidance on completing this step.

The BOSET tool does include vegetation mapping in areas regulated by Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013. This includes draft mapping for Category 1 and Category 2 areas.

 

The area of impact needs to be calculated for the whole development. This includes buildings, landscaping, access roads, bushfire asset protection zones, fencing and any associated infrastructure.  The BOSET User Manual provides guidance on determining your area of clearing.

What is a Bushfire Asset Protection Zone?

Development on bush fire prone land will normally require the implementation of a set-back distance which is referred to as an asset protection zone. An asset protection zone (APZ) aims to protect human life, property and highly valued assets. It is a buffer zone between a bush fire hazard and buildings, which is managed progressively to minimise fuel loads and reduce the potential radiant heat levels. For more detailed information go to http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area/bush-fire-protection-measures/asset-protection-zones

Yes – The Biodiversity Offset Scheme applies to your clearing proposal. You will need to apply for an approval from the Native Vegetation Panel under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017. You will need to engage an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report in accordance with the Biodiversity Assessment Method to accompany your application. The Native Vegetation Panel will use this report to consider whether to approve your vegetation clearing proposal. 

The Native Vegetation Panel may delegate its approval role to a local council. Check with your council whether a delegation has been made. If not, contact your closest Local Land Services office.

Visit the Biodiversity Offset Scheme page and use BMAT User Manual to calculate your clearing footprint and get advice on whether your clearing exceeds  biodiversity offset scheme threshold because it is exceeds the area clearing thresholds set out in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 and detailed in the table below.

Note that the BOSET tool does not currently include vegetation mapping in areas regulated by the Vegetation SEPP. All clearing estimates will have to be performed outside of the tool. The User Manual provides guidance on completing this step.

 

Yes – The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme applies to your clearing proposal. You will need to engage an accredited assessor to prepare a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report in accordance with the Biodiversity Assessment Method and submit it with your application for development consent. The consent authority (which may be your local council) will consider whether to grant consent to your development application and the conditions of any consent in accordance with the requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

No – You do not need to obtain a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report to submit with your development application. The consent authority (which may be your local council) will consider whether to grant development consent. Your application of the test under section 7.3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and evidence that your proposal does not trigger the offset scheme threshold must be included with your development application.

Unsure? You will need to engage a suitably qualified professional to undertake a test of significance in accordance with section 7.3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

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