Pay into the fund to offset development
Under the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS), development proponents may choose to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund as an alternative to retiring biodiversity credits to meet their project offset obligation.
The Australian Government has formally endorsed the BOS through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) Condition-setting Policy. The BOS has been endorsed for all controlled actions under the EPBC Act. This means that Commonwealth offset obligations may also be satisfied by payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund. Further information on Commonwealth endorsement of the BOS can be found on the NSW Environment, NSW Planning and Australian Government websites.
Eligibility to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund
You are eligible to pay into the Fund if you have a legal obligation to retire biodiversity credits under NSW law (generally via development consent conditions issued by an NSW consent authority under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979).
There is no obligation on you to demonstrate that you have tried to find your own offsets before paying into the fund. That is, paying into the fund is available as an option as soon as a development has been approved and a legal requirement to retire credits exists.
If you have an existing EPBC Act approval, you may use the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet your Commonwealth offset requirement, if you have:
- a legal obligation to retire biodiversity credits under NSW law, and
- an EPBC Act approval that was made on or after 24 March 2020 or if issued prior to this date, EPBC Act conditions of approval that allow for payment into a Commonwealth-endorsed Fund.
EPBC Act approval holders not eligible under the above criteria seeking to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund as an alternative to existing offset obligations should contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Click here to find the contact details.
The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) is required to meet any Commonwealth biodiversity offset credit requirement component in a like-for-like manner. This is by retiring like-for-like credits, by funding conservation actions that are listed in the Ancillary rules: Biodiversity conservation actions and benefit the threatened entity impacted, or by funding other conservation measures approved by the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment that directly benefit the entity impacted. It is a development proponent’s responsibility to notify the BCT that a payment is for a controlled action.
Paying into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund
The process for paying into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund is as follows:
- Applicant submits a completed application form to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
- BCT reviews the application and provides a reference number (3-5 business days).
- BCT advises in writing whether the application has been approved and if so, provides payment details (payment term is seven days).
- Applicant submits Recipient Created Tax Invoice or requests an invoice from the BCT (3-5 business days).
- Applicant makes the payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
- BCT confirms receipt of payment and issues a certificate under section 6.33 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The certificate issued by the BCT may be used by the proponent to demonstrate to the consent authority that the relevant offset obligation consent condition(s) has been met.
An application form must be submitted before payment into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund occurs. This form must be accompanied by all required supporting documentation to be considered complete (see page 3 of the form for detailed requirements), including:
- development consent conditions (or relevant approvals) including consent conditions relating to Commonwealth offset obligations (if applicable);
- biodiversity credit reports (both like-for-like and variation biodiversity credit reports as generated by the Biodiversity Assessment Method Calculator (BAM-C)) or a summary of credit calculations;
- GIS shapefiles of the development impacted site boundary;
- statement of reasonable equivalence of biodiversity credits, or evidence that an application for a statement has been submitted to DPIE (if applicable – see below); and
- biodiversity offsets payment calculator output from the Biodiversity Offsets and Agreements Management System (BOAMS) or online Public Tool showing the developer charge for each credit type, current at the time the application is submitted.
The BCT will honour the biodiversity offsets payment calculator charge that is current on the date that a complete application is received by the BCT.
If a development proponent holds an offset obligation that was calculated using the BioBanking Assessment Methodology (BBAM) or Framework for Biodiversity Assessment (FBA), they will need to seek a ‘statement of reasonable equivalence of biodiversity credits’ from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) before paying into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund. For further information about equivalence statements, please visit the DPIE website, call 1800 931 717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In cases where an equivalence statement is required, evidence that an application for an equivalence statement has been submitted to DPIE may be submitted with an application to pay into the BCF. The BCT will honour the biodiversity offsets payment calculator charge that is available at that time, through to the date when the equivalence statement is finalised. Once the credit equivalence statement is finalised, the applicant will need to forward the statement to the BCT and amend page 2 of the application form to pay into the BCF to confirm the number of credits to be discharged, total payment per credit type, GST and total payment amount. If a new biodiversity offsets payment calculator charge is available at the time the credit equivalence statement is finalised, a proponent may choose to re-apply to the BCT using the revised charge.
Visit the BCT Biodiversity Offsets Program outcomes page to get more information about payments received in the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.