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Biodiversity Assessment Guidelines: Alternative Specific Offset Arrangements

Important changes for proponents with specific offset obligations

















The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has released information relating to alternative methods for meeting specific offsets obligations under Victoria's Permitted clearing of native vegetation – Biodiversity assessment guidelines (the Guidelines) on 10 December 2015.

Specific offsets are required when clearing significantly impacts rare or threatened species’ habitat.

Historically, proponents of alternative specific offsets have had difficulty in meeting specific offset obligations with only 5% of trades since the implementation of the current offset market being for specific units. In most cases specific credits have not been available resulting in a significant number of proponents unable to meet their permit condition resulting in projects stalling.

In order to alleviate this situation DELWP have released a guidance note detailing acceptable alternative arrangements. This follows a recent change in how the Department calculates specific offsets.

Below is a summary of the latest revisions and likely implications.

As with all changes to regulations, it is vital that proponents seek expert advice as to how these changes are likely to affect their project.


When would alternative arrangements be considered?

-  When specific offsets required are not available on the Native Vegetation Credit Register (NVCR) or confirmed assets database.

-  Attempts have been made to contact landowners with eligible sites within the mapped habitat for the species that requires a specific offset. This has resulted in no suitable offsets site being identifie


When are alternative arrangements not considered?


-  If available, the cost of the specific offsets is not a valid reason for applying to access alternative offset arrangements.


What does this mean for my project?

-  This change will mean more flexibility in securing previously unavailable specific offset arrangements for proponents seeking to fulfil their permit requirements.


-  More certainty to proponents regarding what kind of arrangements will be acceptable to DELWP when proposing an alternative to existing specific offset arrangements.


-  It is likely to lead to an increase in specific unit trades, and a reduction in the time and costs associated with meeting specific offset obligations.


-  If you require approval for a specific offset arrangement equivalent outcomes for the species must be demonstrated to the
satisfaction of the Secretary of DELWP.  Ecology and Heritage Partners are available to facilitate and streamline this process.


How can I obtain specific offsets?


Potential offsets may be sourced using the following mechanisms:


-  BushBroker: BushBroker maintains a register of landowners who are willing to sell offset credits. 


-  Trust for Nature: Trust for Nature holds a list of landowners who are willing to sell vegetation offsets. 


-  Local Councils: The proponent may contact local councils to seek availability of offsets.


-  Over-the-Counter Offsets Scheme: The Guidelines include the expansion of the “Over-the-Counter” (OTC)

Offsets Scheme, allowing non-government agencies to establish themselves as OTC Facilities.  OTC Facilities will broker native vegetation offsets (credits) between landholders (with offset sites) and permit holders (with offset requirements). 


Ecology and Heritage Partners are a DELWP accredited OTC offset assessor and broker. We have been assisting permit holders meet their native vegetation offset obligations for the last 10 years and have a detailed knowledge of the type and extent of available credits in the marketplace, with over 100 successful trades brokered over the past 18 months.  We have an excellent relationship with DELWP and their regional offices and are in a position to facilitate a suitable offset outcome for proponents to DELWP’s satisfaction.


How can I get help?                                                                     


If you require facilitation of your specific offset obligations, contact one of our trusted ecological consultants to arrange for a review of offset obligations consistent with current policy.  For further information regarding the biodiversity offset process refer to our website. 


For further clarification on how these changes may affect you, please don’t hesitate to call us on (03) 9377 0100 or email
offsets@ehpartners.com.au.

 


Relevant link:
DELWP
Fact sheet: Alternative specific offset arrangements





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