Queensland’s environment will be the big winner after the new Environmental Offsets Bill was passed in parliament fulfilling another election commitment by the Newman Government.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, said the new legislation gives the government the opportunity to focus investment on frontline corridors with high environmental value.
“This means for the first time, Queensland will have a strategic and considered approach to land and marine based offsets,” Mr Powell said.
“By working with industry and not against them, we will achieve greater environmental benefits than the previous Labor government’s ad-hoc and piecemeal outcomes.
“We have developed a fair and simplified offset framework that helps build Queensland’s four-pillar economy whilst retaining a focus on environmental protection.”
Queensland Trust For Nature General Manager Ben O’Hara welcomed the new offsets provisions as a way of better managing the environmental obligations of developers and the conservation outcomes for Queensland flora and fauna.
“In a growing economy there will be new development which places pressure on areas of environmental importance, however, the ability to manage offsets through a coordinated structured process is a great step forward,” Mr O’Hara said.
Mr Powell said offsets compensated for unavoidable environmental impacts caused by development, by providing an equivalent environmental outcome elsewhere.
“This new legislation is part of the Newman Government’s strong plan for a brighter future,” Mr Powell said.
“Not only does it replace five separate policies but it also reduces costs and the regulatory burden for developers, while avoiding duplication across all levels of government.”
The new legislation will replace the following offset policies:
- Queensland Government Environmental Offset Policy
- Marine Fish Habitat Offsets Policy
- Policy for Vegetation Management Offsets
- Queensland Biodiversity Offset Policy
- Offsets for Net Gain of Koala Habitat in South East Queensland Policy.
“Offsets are a component of the assessment process that enables development to proceed and this new scientifically-based approach removes a prescriptive and difficult to navigate system which caused unnecessary and costly delays to proponents,” he said.
“The Newman Government is committed to reducing costs to business and cutting green tape.
“This legislation does both while ensuring high environmental outcomes are achieved.”