The Northern Territory Government has detailed comprehensive reforms to environmental policy, including commitments to new biodiversity offsets for mitigating adverse environmental outcomes in future developments.
The Government detailed a broad-range of policies and reforms in the publication of its Greenhouse Gas Offsets Policy and Technical Guidelines and the commencement of public-consultation for its draft NT Biodiversity Offsets Policy.
The technical guidelines seek to provide greater certainty for industry regarding its obligations toward the government’s net zero by 2050 target, and clarity for regulators and decision makers in assessing emissions offset proposals.
The draft plan for biodiversity offsets is designed to compensate for residual impacts on biodiversity at one site by requiring conservation or restoration activities elsewhere.
Under the Environment Protection Act, development proposals must first be designed to avoid adverse impacts, or identify options to mitigate adverse impacts on the environment.
Offsets policies provide a mechanism of last resort to address issues of a residual nature that cannot be avoided or mitigated.
Northern Territory Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water Security, Lauren Moss, said the reforms would support both the local environment and economic prosperity.
“Territory Labor is delivering a number of reforms to protect our natural environment while ensuring that we also support sustainable development, economic growth and jobs,” Ms Moss said.
“This is complex work reflecting public consultation across a diverse range of stakeholders, and commitments made as a result of other reviews, including the Pepper inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.
“These offsets policies are just one part, an instrument of last resort, in a comprehensive all-of-government response to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”
These policies address commitments made in the Northern Territory Climate Change Response and the Government’s response to the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission and recommendation 8.9 of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.
They are components of the NT Offsets Framework approved by the government in June 2020.