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Byron Shire
September 29, 2022

Biodiversity Offsets inadequate: NSW Auditor General

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One of the key planning mechanisms that enabled the Byron Bay Butler Street Bypass has been found to be lacking in integrity, transparency, and sustainability by the NSW Auditor General.

Established in 2017 by the Department for Planning and Environment (DPE), Biodiversity Offsets were ‘designed to compensate for significant, residual biodiversity loss from development projects’.

Yet there were early warning signs around its lack of effectiveness. In 2019, legal public interest NGO, NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), criticised the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme that Council used to clear significant native vegetation at the southern end of Butler Street.

To the victors go the spoils… Upper House MP Ben Franklin, and then Byron Mayor Simon Richardson, tuck into a bit of bypass cake. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Mayor pushed the bypass project

Then Greens Mayor, Simon Richardson, pushed the bypass project with fellow councillors, despite objections from within his own party, and the public, who claimed the mechanism was inadequate and problematic.

The NSW Auditor General’s Effectiveness of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme, released on Tuesday, determined that Biodiversity Offsets do not have a ‘clear strategy to develop the biodiversity credit market or determine whether the scheme’s operation and outcomes are consistent with the purposes of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016’.

Biodiversity Offsets was one element that replaced the previous BioBanking Scheme and other Acts, including the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology (EOAM).

That EOAM, according to the EDO, was ‘world class.’

‘Now there are self-assessable codes, exemptions and discretionary clearing,’ the EDO said at the time.

Greens MLC Sue Higginson says the NSW Auditor General’s report is absolutely damning. Photo Tree Faerie.

NSW Greens MLC and spokesperson for the environment, Sue Higginson, said ‘The [NSW Auditor General] report is absolutely damning and confirms that we are facing an environmental crisis and the government’s current policy is broken and contributing significantly to it’.

Govt contributing to environmental crisis

‘This broken scheme has failed to adequately identify and provide like-for-like offsets for many developments in NSW creating a situation where threatened species and ecological communities will likely go extinct owing to the lack of appropriate and available offset credits’.

Independent NSW MP, Justin Field, has called for the NSW Government to reform the scheme by setting clear ‘red lines’ around where biodiversity offsetting can and cannot be used.

‘There are just some things that can’t be offset. We need to be honest about this reality and  ensure the most threatened species and ecological communities are protected’, he said.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Of course the scheme is broken, it is run by The NSW Liberal Government who are the biggest tree butchers in the business.

    Sydney’s Anzac Avenue saw the tree loppers do their thing removing those pesky trees, that were planted as a living memorial to WWI soldiers, to make way for the Light Railfail Project.

    Cammeray Sydney is the scene of another tree massacre, as hundreds of pesky trees removed to… ‘pave paradise and put up a motorway’.

    But the Daddy ( and right on cue on Fathers Day! ) of all tree massacres is coming to West Pennant Hills Sydney.
    Mirvac has a development on the former IMB site that will see some THREE T H O U S A N D trees chopped down and out for the count.

    Thank you Dom, Matt, Anthony and Rob, you’ve got our environments back, NOT.

    • Spot on ,
      The NSW Government are the enemy of the people and the continued existence of the environment .
      There are no “offset credits ” every last tree is precious, and the overall web of life is on it’s last legs.
      Cheers, G”)

  2. Keep calling ‘crisis’ at everything you don’t like and people will stop listening. Nothing is going extinct by building a road.

  3. Blind Freddy could have told us this Offsets Scheme was a rubrick and has hairs all over it, In fact there were many voices crying in the wilderness over this one, from its inception. There is more at stake than the Byron Bypass lost habitat, this scheme has failed 1000’s of ha of clearing.
    Unlike CS’s bemoaned blind beggaring that seems to imply human’s can bugger everything without consequence, nobody who has the love of money as their godhead really listens to the Trees, or the Koala’s or the Rivers, and we continue to drive our natural systems down this road to hell.
    Death by a thousand cuts.
    “but don’t blame me.
    I stopped listened
    just like a good little Christian”

    • You would destroy the bird for breaking the beautiful egg from whence it hatched?
      Are you are so lost in dreams of forest sprites and fairies, you have forgot what you are?

      We are not alien, we are natures greatest creation. A creature designed to transform this world into a launching pad to spread life throughout a dead galaxy. A species that can create new forms of life from the rocks themselves. This planet has been a lava field, a global desert, a global glacier, and it has rained planet wide non-stop for 2 millions years. Countless eco-systems destroyed and replaced with the new and different. Species after species created and extincted all to build us, the ultimate expression of life.

      Shame on all of you who would throw away your birth right over dreams of a past that never was, and a future that could never be. T he device you are using to read my words is no different to the mound the termite builds, or a beavers dam. It is part of nature, as are you.We are transforming this world, as it has been transformed many times before by many other species. Ambition is not greed, it is the force nature has put in us to push toward our destiny, to the purpose for which it has made us. and we are going to need a road to get there, so rip rip wood chip!

    • You would destroy the bird for breaking the beautiful egg from whence it hatched?
      Are you are so lost in dreams of forest sprites and fairies, you have forgot what you are?

      We are not alien, we are natures greatest creation. A creature designed to transform this world into a launching pad to spread life throughout a dead galaxy. A species that can create new forms of life from the rocks themselves. This planet has been a lava field, a global desert, a global glacier, and it has rained planet wide non-stop for 2 millions years. Countless eco-systems destroyed and replaced with the new and different. Species after species created and extincted all to build us, the ultimate expression of life.

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