EDO NSW supports efficient and effective environmental regulation, with comprehensive guidance and upfront certainty about the rules and processes for both development proponents and communities. However, achieving efficiencies through accreditation cannot be at the expense of maintaining environmental standards. Accreditation is much more than an administrative exercise.
The consultation materials state that this amending exercise is “minor” and relates to updating the names and relevant provisions of the NSW legislation that is accredited since reforms have occurred at the state level.
Commonwealth accreditation of the new NSW biodiversity laws is not simply a minor administrative exercise. While the “intent” of the overall agreement remains the same, to streamline assessment requirements, the substantive detail of what laws and standards are being accredited is substantially different.
EDO NSW has published significant expert analysis of the new NSW laws and documented the weakening of standards for environmental protection. In our expert view, it is legally questionable to pursue accreditation in the absence of significant amendment to the NSW laws to meet national standards.
Our primary recommendation is that the Amending Agreement must not be signed until relevant amendments to NSW offset rules and regulations have been made and have commenced.
This submission identifies both our overarching concerns with the proposed Commonwealth endorsement of new NSW biodiversity laws and also makes specific comments on proposed amendments.