Posted on April 20, 2022 by Katie Mortimer and Stuart Simington

Guidance for the Preparation and Review of Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports

We recently blogged on the primacy of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) in the development assessment process, and how recent Court decisions have interpreted the BC Act as creating significant hurdles for a wide range of developments that impact on biodiversity values.

Key to the assessment of biodiversity impacts under the BC Act are biodiversity development assessment reports (BDARs).

Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports 

A BDAR is a report prepared by an accredited person in relation to a proposed development or activity, that:

    1. assesses in accordance with the biodiversity assessment method (BAM) the biodiversity values of the land subject to the proposed development, activity or clearing, and
    2. assesses in accordance with [the BAM] the impact of proposed development, activity or clearing on the biodiversity values of that land, and
    3. sets out the measures that the proponent of the proposed development, activity or clearing proposes to take to avoid or minimise the impact of the proposed development, activity or clearing, and
    4. specifies in accordance with [the BAM] the number and class of biodiversity credits that are required to be retired to offset the residual impacts on biodiversity values of the actions to which the biodiversity offsets scheme applies.

See section 6.12 of the BC Act.

Any development or activity which triggers Part 7 of the BC Act, and is likely to significantly affect threatened species must be accompanied by a BDAR.

The BC Act then mandates a process for a consent authority or determining authority to consider the likely impact of the proposed development on biodiversity values, as assessed in that BDAR.

BDAR Template and Guidance 

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has recently published a template Biodiversity Development Assessment Report and guidance document for the use of that template: Guidance for the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report Template.

The template is intended to assist both accredited assessors preparing BDARs, and also decision makers assessing and reviewing BDARs. It sets out the minimum requirements for inclusion in a BDAR, in order for the report to be prepared in accordance with the BAM 2020.

The template is not compulsory, nor is it intended to be exhaustive, but it does provide guidance and cross references to sections of the BAM, manuals and other guidelines that should be referred to and considered in the preparation of a BDAR.

Use of the BDAR Template by Decision Makers

Whilst decision makers need to critically review BDARs on a case by case basis and examine the evidence-based justification provided, our view is that the template can operate as a preliminary checklist to ensure that all requirements of BAM 2020 have been included in a BDAR.

Our earlier post discussing the primacy of the BC Act in development assessment is here.

You can access the template BDAR here and the guidance document here.

DPE’s earlier 2020 publication, Guidance for local government on undertaking a critical review of a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report is also available here.

If you wish to discuss this post or the preparation or review of BDARs, please contact Stuart Simington on 8235 9704 or Katie Mortimer on 8235 9716.