There are times that development needs to be done in areas that are of environmental importance and this needs to be taken into account by developers. In some cases it is impossible to avoid a development’s impact on the local environment and in certain situations, Councils and developers need to work out a way to offset the environmental impacts. This is the case with the route for the Byron Bay bypass. Biobanking is one way of doing this.
In simple terms Biobanking is a process where the impact of a development, or works, on the habitat of an area, is offset by the protection and enhancement of a larger area of habitat in a different location.
A BioBanking agreement specifies the management actions that are required to be undertaken on BioBank sites in order for credits to be created. The Act further provides for the BioBanking agreement to specify the number and class of biodiversity credits that may be created, and the timing of creation. This is determined in accordance with the BioBanking Assessment Methodology. A BioBanking agreement is attached to the land title and includes provisions that require current and future landowners to:
• carry out management actions to improve biodiversity values on the site;
• not undertake activities that would reduce the biodiversity values of the site.
A BioBanking site has to already have some environmental qualities to meet the requirements for an agreement. These qualities relate to the two classes of biodiversity credits – ecosystem credits and species credits. Both classes of credits can be created at a BioBank site. A BioBank site must already contain native vegetation or threatened species, populations, ecological communities or their habitats. The agreement is both to conserve and improve the site.
In the case of Byron Shire Council, we can agree to protect another area within the Shire, or we can buy biobanking credits for the protection of an area in another part of NSW or even Australia.
The route of the Byron Bay bypass includes an area of wetland. Council has an obligation to comply with the relevant law on environmental protection and consider the impacts on the wetland. To meet Council’s obligations under NSW environmental law Council opted to undertake a Biobanking Agreement. We have found two sites in the Shire that have similar habitat to that which will be affected by the construction of the bypass and we have undertaken that this area will be protected in the future.
There are two components to Council’s BioBanking Agreement for the construction of the Byron Bay bypass :
1. BioBanking Statement that accompanies a development application and confirms the number and type of credits and any on-site measures required for the development to improve or maintain biodiversity values. Council submitted a Biobanking Statement endorsed by the Director General of the Office of Environment and Heritage with the Bypass development application. The link to Council’s Biobanking Statement with OEH is here: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bimsprapp/StatementDetails.aspx?ID=19 (pdf copy attached)
2. A BioBanking agreement is a conservation covenant that is attached to the land title. It runs with the land, and generally has effect in perpetuity so as to offset the impacts of development on biodiversity values. Land the subject of an agreement generates the credits required for the statement. Council has two Biobanking Agreement sites:
a. Biobanking Agreement 348 for the Wallum Place site
b. Biobanking Agreement 352 for the Lilli Pilli site
These can be found here https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bimsprapp/biobankingpr.aspx
The Biobanking Statement for the Bypass has been approved by the CEO of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
Council is required to retire the credits at its two Biobanking agreement sites.
The Biobanking Statement addressed all threatened species impacts that were raised in the Land and Environment Court Case and the court was satisfied that these impacts were offset by the statement and agreement.