Page 2120 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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comments received from the commonwealth. The offsets management plan was then resubmitted to the commonwealth for reconsideration in the week of 4 July this year. It is anticipated that the commonwealth will approve the offsets management plan by mid-August. Once approved, it will be made available through the ACT government website.

The offsets management plan for the Watson site is currently being drafted. Over the coming months the Watson offsets management plan will be submitted to the commonwealth for consideration and, once approved, will also be made publicly available through the ACT government website.

I consider that the previously mentioned issues have been adequately addressed in the report on consultation which is now publicly available on the Environment and Planning Directorate’s website. I believe the changes implemented by variation 349 are positive as they add to our city’s already extensive nature reserve network and will allow the ACT government to better protect and manage critically endangered flora and fauna in these two areas.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (3.37): I want to make a couple of quick comments on this variation. Again, biodiversity conservation is something the Greens are critically interested in. Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to biodiversity and as our city continues to expand we need to ensure that our unique ecosystems and threatened species are conserved.

This requires a range of measures, from establishing reserves to ensuring improved connectivity, funding for weed and pest animal management and education programs. Biodiversity offsets have a role to play. They recognise that where habitat is lost through development, alternative measures are taken to compensate for this loss. However, biodiversity offsets should only be used as a last resort after every effort to avoid and mitigate impacts.

In some cases impacts cannot be offset, and no-go areas should be identified. The ACT Greens believe we need an offsets policy that does not perpetuate biodiversity loss. Principles include: that offsets should result in net gain for the specific species or ecosystem within the local area; that they achieve benefits in perpetuity; that they include a monitoring and reporting system to assess effectiveness; that they are legally enforced; that they should not include past conservation actions; that they should be put in place prior to development commencing; and that they should be supported by adequate funding for research, restoration and monitoring.

I am not convinced that we yet have an offsets policy or practices that meet all of these principles. We have made progress with strategic assessments as opposed to individual development proposals and their impact in isolation. For example, in Molonglo and Gungahlin, where biodiversity values and strategies to conserve these were identified across a wider area in a more strategic way, we have seen the strength of that strategic approach.

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