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19 March, 2022

MPs comment on 2016 biodiversity legislation

By Natasha May

Following the article about biodiversity offset legislation which appeared in the March 1 issue of The Gilgandra Weekly, the NSW minister for agriculture, Dugald Saunders, as well as the local state member for Barwon, Roy Butler, have said they too believe the legislation is preventing development in western NSW.

Mr Butler told Gilgandra Newspapers the current legislation in regional areas hampers development.

“I’ve seen the current biodiversity offset requirements stop developments in parts of Barwon. At a time when we’re trying to grow our population and attract people we need to remove any barriers we can to people spending money and building things.”

Mr Butler said development is vital for good public amenity for people who already live here as well as for attracting people. Mr Saunders agreed “private and government development is vital to the ongoing success of communities in western NSW and we need to ensure we keep growing our communities by providing jobs, infrastructure and ongoing investment”.

He said “I am working very closely with stakeholders to amend what we know is not an effective system when it comes to biodiversity offsets and the impact they are having on future development”.

Mr Saunders said Narromine and Gilgandra were part of a large number of councils, who have been engaged in those discussions and are part of providing feedback to improve the situation.

“I’m very supportive of this cause and I’m working with the department of regional NSW to find a solution however, it needs to be acknowledged that it’s a matter that will take some time to fix,” Mr Saunders said.

Mr Butler said he had discussions with the former minister for the environment Matt Kean, who had been turning much farmland in western NSW into national parks. Mr Butler had discussed with Mr Kean “if we can’t get the benefit of the farming activity, maybe we can get the benefit of using the national park for a biodiversity offset, which does not impact on the national park”.

Despite the change in James Griffin replacing Mr Kean as NSW minister for the environment, Mr Butler said he doesn’t want the issue to drop off the radar just because we’ve had a change of ministers.

“We want these developments in regional NSW to go ahead but when the developer is required to provide biodiversity offsets it can become unviable for them to proceed.”

Mr Butler said it was important to note that using national parks as an offset, would only be for a public good development, which benefit large portions of the community, whether through providing more jobs or good public amenity.

Mr Butler gave the example of the Bourke abbatoir, which was built but not transport yards on the site because the development couldn’t muster the necessary funds for the biodiversity offsets for the transport yards.

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