Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has called the NSW Government’s Biodiversity Offset Policy for Major Projects, which is due to commence tomorrow, a threat to NSW’s biodiversity and just a way of easing environmental regulations for developers and miners.
Dr Faruqi said:
“Tomorrow, the Government will commence a new biodiversity offset policy that will make it much easier for big mining and other interests to trash our environment. Despite much concern from environmental groups about the negative impacts of the policy, the Government is pushing ahead.
“It is especially disappointing to see the Government weakening biodiversity protections, just a day after the World Wildlife Fund’s 2014 Living Planet Report highlighted that global wildlife populations have halved since just 1970. In the wake of declining biodiversity, the Government should be further strengthening our environmental.
“The Environment Minister’s role is to protect and enhance our environment, not ease the burden for developers.
“Even if we accept the flawed concept that ecological damage can be offset, the Government is massively lowering the bar for mining companies and big developers.
“Rehabilitation of mining sites, which should be done as a part of a mining agreement, will now gain biodiversity credits, which is essentially double dipping.
“Instead of finding offset sites that match the ones that will be destroyed, the so-called ‘like for like’ principle, companies can just find broadly similar areas or even pay into a fund.
“This policy is a huge threat to biodiversity. There are big question marks about the effectiveness of the current offsets policy, evidenced in places like the Leard State Forest, and now the government is weakening even that.
“The reality is that biodiversity loss cannot be offset, once we lose a species it is gone”, she concluded.