The Victorian Government has released its Biodiversity Conservation Strategy outlining how conservation will be dealt with within Melbourne’s designated growth corridors.
One key reform, following consistent evidenced-based advocacy by the Property Council of Australia, will see the development industry benefit from a $500 million reduction in offset charges.
The Property Council, Australia’s leading advocate for the country’s $600 billion property industry, has welcomed the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the clarity, transparency and sound environmental outcomes it will deliver.
“This approach is a marked improvement on the current system and the Victoria Government should be congratulated for championing this approach nationally,” said Property Council Victorian executive director Jennifer Cunich.
The Property Council praised the Government’s innovative approach to streamlining offsets and the transition to a simpler method of calculating costs. The development of online management systems for offset liabilities and credits, the Council said, will also be well received by the development industry.
“The Property Council has worked very hard with this Government to see a reduction in red tape across biodiversity management,” Cunich said.
“From proposing reform to species management approaches to lobbying for lower offset costs, the Property Council has been at the forefront of this policy development process. We congratulate the Government on its outstanding engagement with industry, environmental stakeholders and the community throughout this process.”
Although the Property Council welcomed the Government’s reduction of costs by close to $500 million, it believes the cost of offsets to be collected is still very high with no clear government funding commitments to these environmental outcomes.
“The cost impost on home buyers under the new Strategy has gone from an outrageous amount under the old system to what will still be a burdensome amount. The cost impost will hurt housing development industry at a time it needs stimulating. Government has to recognise this,” Cunich said.
“The Government must take a holistic approach to costs imposed on home buyers. These biodiversity costs will eat up any advantage given by the recent stamp duty concessions and first home owners grant changes to Victoria’s growing population.”
Under the Strategy, which still requires formal approval by the Commonwealth Government, the new regime will build on the Melbourne Strategic Assessment system with a simpler, more efficient and more cost reflective offset system. The new system will provide increased planning certainty and sound environmental outcomes and will streamline planning and approval processes.
The Victorian Government has also released a draft cost recovery plan entitled Habitat Compensation under the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, which aims to collect close to $1 billion for the program over the next 30-40 years.