NSW Biodiversity reforms
Significant changes in legislation and policy which effect Biodiversity and land-clearing have been brought in by the NSW government. There are new Regulations and Codes which accompany the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment ACT 2016.
In summary, the new legislation, regulations and codes will establish four broad types of land:
- Category 1 land: Land classified as agricultural where clearing of native vegetation can occur without approval;
- Category 2 land: Tree clearing is allowed under Codes, via landholder self-assessment;
- Two sub-categories of Category 2 land: vulnerable and sensitive. Tree clearing may be allowed following assessment from Government and;
- Areas where the new laws don’t apply, such as National Parks, urban areas and Environment Zones. A new State Environment Planning Policy will detail how vegetation in urban areas and Environment Zones will be managed. Activities that need development consent will still be assessed under the planning system (EP&A Act 1979). Here, a new assessment and offsetting scheme will apply where there are substantial impacts on threatened species and their habitat. (Source: Nature Conservation Council of NSW: https://www.nature.org.au/resources/submission-guides/ )
The Government’s information on the regulations and codes is available at: https://www.landmanagement.nsw.gov.au
The NSW Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018 came into effect on 10th March 2018. The aims of the Code are to: (a) authorise clearing of native vegetation on Category 2-regulated land, (b) provide for establishment and management of set aside areas, and (c) authorise re-categorisation of land.
It allows landholders to carry out significant amounts of self-assessed clearing of native vegetation without further approval or environmental assessment, including in areas with endangered ecological communities, and threatened species.
The Code was intended to be released with native vegetation regulatory maps to assist landholders to identify where clearing of native vegetation on rural can and cannot occur, the release of those maps was significantly delayed. They are in fact still yet to be released, which means landholders continue to be required to self-assess whether such land management clearing codes apply to their land.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW, represented by EDO NSW, has commenced proceedings in the Land and Environment Court to challenge the decision of the Minister for Primary Industries to make the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2018 (2018 Code) under the Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW).