The NSW Government is in the process of undertaking a significant reform of biodiversity conservation management and legislation. The changes involve repealing a range of legislation (including the Native Vegetation Act 2003, the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974) to be replaced by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Sections of the Local Lands Services Act 2013 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 have also been amended.
Environmental management will change in rural areas under the proposed reforms.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and associated amendments to related Acts came into effect on the 25th of August. However, the reform process, and by extension the public consultation and review process, is far from complete.
A suite of proposed measures are still not finalised, and have therefore not yet come into effect. These include:
Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017
Local Land Services Amendment Regulation 2017
Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Biodiversity Conservation) Regulation 2017
Land management codes, statements, assessment schemes and mapping which support the implementation of the new legislation
It is anticipated that the reform process will not be finalised until 2018.
A recent period of public consultation took place between the 10th of May and the 21st of June 2017, in which the NSW Government sought comment on a range of Regulations and measures to support the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016. SMK Consultants lodged two submissions to the Government on the behalf of a client during this period.
A summary of submissions received during this consultation period has been published by the Office of Environment and Heritage. In total, the Government received 8,924 submissions. Results were analysed by identifying and focusing on key issues raised by stakeholders to show the range of opinions on the reform process.
SMK Consultants' submission was explicitly referred to in the Office of Environment and Heritage's published Summary of Submissions Report. In this, we argued that the extent and nature of consultation with rural communities regarding the reform process has to date been insufficient, and that the Government must commit greater time and resources to ensure rural communities are adequately engaged and represented in the consultation process. The acknowledgement of this argument by the Office of Environment and Heritage is considered to be a positive step in the move towards empowering rural communities in the complex regulatory space of environmental management.
New periods of consultation are due to commence shortly, as the Government seeks comment on a suite of measures including the:
Native Vegetation Regulatory Map
Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy
Wildlife codes of practice
We look forward to new opportunities to engage with local stakeholders and the Government to ensure that the best outcome is received for local communities and the environment under the reform package. If you wish to gain a better understanding of and/or become involved in the reform process, contact SMK Consultants on (02) 6752 1021 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.