Bombshell report recommends the end NSW Government’s Biodiversity Conservation Fund
19 December 2023 - The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has today released its annual report into the NSW biodiversity credits market, while the review claims not to address the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in NSW it recommends the controversial Biodiversity Conservation Fund be phased out. It also received a submission from ICAC which highlighted the scheme is vulnerable to corporate capture.
Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said: “this report shows again that the way we are managing biodiversity in the face of increasing development pressures in NSW is not working. The Biodiversity Conservation Fund allows developers to trade on extinction, allowing them to pay into the fund while they destroy precious biodiversity that cannot be offset anywhere else. It is a welcomed recommendation that the fund be scrapped but it must be done in concert with a stricter application of the integrity rules. If we are to have an offset system that works, there must be no variations to the rules, offsets must be like for like, threatened species and ecological communities must not be tradeable and all offsets must be protected in perpetuity and the principle of additionality must apply.
“For this system to work we must also improve the Governance once and for all. We have also known for a long time, and ICAC has confirmed, that the scheme is vulnerable to poor governance and corruption and is not working for the government or for developers and certainly not for biodiversity.
“We should not wait for another drastic State of the Environment Report to tell us we are failing the natural environment, we know that NSW is experiencing a biodiversity crisis. Any developer scheme must prioritise the protection of native species and ecosystems and actual work to genuinely improve biodiversity. Last year the Auditor General released a report that was similarly damning of the scheme - we’re trading on extinction and this must be drastically overhauled.
“IPART’s report has shown that six years in, the scheme is a complete failure. The Government must now take immediate and drastic action to freeze all contributions into the fund and develop a new approach that centres biodiversity values above all else. We cannot continue down this path of biodiversity destruction unabated. We need to be doing everything we can to slow the biodiversity crisis or we are in serious trouble.
“It is up to the Minister to face this head on and to prioritise the environment over developer interests.” Ms Higginson said.