NSW Minerals Council attends Environmental Offsets Inquiry

May 07, 2014

The NSW Minerals Council has made a submission to the Environment and Communications References Committee in response to a Senate inquiry into Environmental Offsets. The inquiry, which we attended with the Minerals Council of Australia, is analysing whether offsets are properly monitored and effective in managing the environmental impacts of mining. The NSW Minerals Council doesn’t believe the inquiry is necessary, given that the Commonwealth Offsets policy is due for review by the Department of Environment.
Our submission acknowledges the importance of offsets to the minerals industry due to the inflexible nature of mined resources. We also emphasise that although the Inquiry focuses almost solely on resources projects, offsets are not restricted to the mining industry. New land releases in Western Sydney and the Melbourne growth corridors have relied on offsetting to provide more than 460,000 new dwellings across the two cities.
While there have been a number of positive changes in offsetting policy in the past two years, our submission suggests opportunities to improve offsetting, including acknowledging mine rehabilitation and providing for an offsets fund to source and secure offsets. The Upper Hunter Strategic Assessment of Biodiversity is highlighted as an example of the shift to more strategic offsetting, which will provide better conservation outcomes and well as greater consistency and transparency for community and industry.
While offsetting should always be a last resort when avoidance and mitigation are exhausted, there are conservation gains that can be made through strategic offsetting, particularly in areas of concentrated mining activities. 
The Senate inquiry is due to report back to parliament in June 2014. You can read our full submission to the full Environmental Offsets Inquiry on our website.

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