Damn review of the NSW Biodiversity Scheme

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A review of the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme found that it effectively allows developers to pay to destroy endangered species, along with a host of other problems.

Introduced in 2016, the highly criticized scheme allowed developers to offset unavoidable biodiversity loss by increasing biodiversity elsewhere, theoretically resulting in “net zero losses”.

In practice, the scheme offers no guarantee that such a balance will be achieved and is vulnerable to manipulation, the parliamentary report published on Thursday found.

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“The design of the plan provides too much flexibility to trade endangered species for money, with no guarantee that truly equivalent offsets will ever be found,” said Greens MP and committee chair Sue Higginson.

After an extensive 18-month investigation, a report from a First House committee also found that the compensation system lacked transparency, making it susceptible to manipulation.

“We have heard that the operation of this plan is so obscure and complex that no stakeholder group has full confidence in it,” said Ms Higginson.

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Allegations of insider trading and conspiracy with the scheme were not surprising given the limited transparency regarding the true ecological results, she said.

The report included recommendations for establishing the scheme, including a major review to ensure it meets best practice principles for offsetting biodiversity.

“I urge the government to address concerns about the scheme by fully implementing the recommendations,” Ms Higginson said.

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“We owe it to future generations to reform this scheme and protect the remaining biodiversity in NSW.”

The report committee was made up of government, opposition and crossbench members and received more than 100 submissions in addition to holding four hearings on the scheme.

– MONKEY

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