Policy guiding the use of offsets under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
As part of the National Environment Law Reform agenda, this policy provides upfront guidance on the role of offsets in environmental impact assessments, and how the department considers the suitability of a proposed offset. It aims to improve environmental outcomes through the consistent application of best practice offset principles, provide more certainty and transparency, and encourage advanced planning of offsets. It replaces the draft policy statement Use of environmental offsets under the EPBC Act (2007).
Offsets are measures that compensate for the residual impacts of an action on the environment, after avoidance and mitigation measures are taken. Where appropriate, offsets are considered during the assessment phase of an environmental impact assessment under the EPBC Act. This policy provides transparency around how suitable offsets are determined. The suitability of a proposed offset is considered as part of the decision to approve or not approve a proposed action under the EPBC Act.
The Offsets assessment guide, which accompanies this policy, has been developed to give effect to the policy's requirements, utilising a balance sheet approach to quantify impacts and offsets. It applies where the impacted protected matter is a threatened species or ecological community. The Offsets assessment guide is a tool that has been developed for expert users in the department to assess the suitability of offset proposals. The guide is also available to proponents to assist with planning and estimating future offset requirements.