«© State of Queensland, 2014. The Queensland Government supports and encourages the dissemination and exchange of its information. The copyright in ...»
Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy
Significant Residual Impact Guideline
Nature Conservation Act 1992
Environmental Protection Act 1994
Marine Parks Act 2004
Prepared by: Biodiversity Integration and Offsets, Ecosystem Outcomes,, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
© State of Queensland, 2014.
The Queensland Government supports and encourages the dissemination and exchange of its information. The copyright in this
publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY) licence.
Under this licence you are free, without having to seek our permission, to use this publication in accordance with the licence terms.
You must keep intact the copyright notice and attribute the State of Queensland as the source of the publication.
For more information on this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/deed.en Disclaimer This document has been prepared with all due diligence and care, based on the best available information at the time of publication. The department holds no responsibility for any errors or omissions within this document. Any decisions made by other parties based on this document are solely the responsibility of those parties.
If you need to access this document in a language other than English, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 and ask them to telephone Library Services on +61 7 3170 5470.
This publication can be made available in an alternative format (e.g. large print or audiotape) on request for people with vision impairment; phone +61 7 3170 5470 or email email@example.com.
December 2014 2 Contents Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy
1.1 Interpreting the criteria
1.2 Rehabilitation works
1.3 Criteria to determine a significant impact
2. Regulated vegetation
2.1 Significant residual impact test—criteria Table 1
2.2 Explanation of key terms
3. Connectivity areas
3.1 Landscape Fragmentation and Connectivity tool
3.2 Significant residual impact test for Connectivity
3.3 Co-location of matters
3.4 Explanation of key terms
4. Wetlands and Watercourses
4.1 Significant residual impact criteria:
4.2 Explanation of key terms:
5. Protected wildlife habitat
5.1 Significant residual impact criteria:
5.2 Explanation of key terms:
6. Koala habitat in South East Queensland
6.1 Significant residual impact criteria for koala habitat in SEQ
6.3 Explanation of key terms
7. Protected areas
7.1 Significant residual impact criteria
8. Explanation of key terms:
9. Fish Habitat Areas and Highly Protected Zones of State Marine Parks
9.1 Significant residual impact criteria:
9.2 Explanation of key terms:
10. Waterway providing for fish passage
10.1 Significant residual impact criteria:
10.2 Explanation of key terms:
11. Marine plants
11.1 Significant residual impact criteria
11.2 Explanation of key terms:
12. Legally secured offset areas
12.1 Significant residual impact criteria
13. Appendix 1
This guideline applies to any activity prescribed in the Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014 that requires an
approval in relation to MSES, under any of the following:
• Nature Conservation Act 1992;
• Marine Parks Act 2004; or
• Environment Protection Act 1994.
For projects that may require an authority under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, guidance is available from the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.
An environmental offset condition may be imposed under certain Queensland legislation that applies to development assessment where the activity is a prescribed activity under the Environmental Offsets Act 2014. The Environmental Offsets Act 2014 places limits on when a condition may be imposed and provides for the subsequent assessment, delivery and compliance with offset conditions once imposed.
An administering agency may impose an environmental offset condition on an authority only if it is satisfied that the prescribed activity will, or is likely to have a significant residual impact on a prescribed environmental matter.
As per Section 8 of the Environmental Offsets Act 2014, a significant residual impact is generally an adverse
impact, whether direct or indirect, of a prescribed activity on all or part of a prescribed environmental matter that:
a) remains, or will or is likely to remain, (whether temporarily or permanently) despite on-site avoidance and mitigation measures for the prescribed activity; and
b) is, or will or is likely to be, significant.
A significant residual impact for a prescribed environmental matter in a protected area or legally secured offset area is defined in the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 and is outlined in sections 8 and 12 of this guideline.
Assessment frameworks for the activities to which this guideline applies have an ‘avoid, mitigate, offset’ obligation that requires in the first instance, avoiding impacts on prescribed environmental matters and if avoidance cannot be achieved, demonstrating that impacts have been carefully managed and minimised (mitigated). If after avoidance and mitigation, there is still an impact on prescribed environmental matters, an offset may be required where the impact is, or is likely, to be significant.
If there is still an impact on the MSES after all reasonable avoidance and on-site mitigation measures for the prescribed activity have been or will be undertaken, this guideline should be used to determine the ‘significance’ of the impact.
The requirement to provide environmental offsets does not mean that development with unacceptable impacts will be approved. Offsets simply provide an additional tool that can be used in the application and assessment process.
In relation to projects that may require authorities under multiple pieces of legislation, the Environmental Offset Act 2014 requires administering agencies to consider any existing environmental offset conditions for the activity that have been imposed. The Act also provides circumstances where an authority holder can seek to remove an offset condition that is duplicated between authorities. This is explained in detail in section 1.1.3 of the Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy version 1.1.
Figure 1 displays the development application process, showing when an offset may be required and reference to when this guideline is used.
The definitions listed in this guideline are accurate as at December 2014. The relevant legislation should be referred to in the event of any updates or changes to these definitions. Some definitions are sourced from their common dictionary meaning.
1.1 Interpreting the criteria The criteria contained in this guideline provide direction for identifying when an impact on a prescribed environmental matter that is MSES, may be ‘significant’.
However, the criteria will need to be considered in the context of each individual application and should be used as guidance only, with two exceptions. The significant residual impact criteria for a prescribed environmental matter that is a protected area or is, or is in, a legally secured offset area, is already defined in the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 (refer to sections 8(2) and 8(4)) and are therefore statutory criteria. For completeness these criteria are repeated in this guideline—refer to sections 3.6 and 3.10.
Generally, supporting information will need to accompany the application for a prescribed activity where there is likely to be a significant residual impact. Supporting information would usually take the form of technical reports or studies carried out by appropriately qualified specialists to confirm the extent, location and nature of the MSES and the impact of the activity on any MSES and may be included in an Environmental Impact Statement where this is required.
2 1.2 Rehabilitation works Where rehabilitation requirements on the impact site are included in a condition of the authority, they may be a relevant consideration in determining the significance of the impact. For example, demonstration of how rehabilitation can mitigate an impact may be based on the production of a well-structured rehabilitation and management plan which identifies and commits to actions to ensure minimal disruption to the healthy functioning of the matter.
Should a proponent successfully demonstrate that rehabilitation works can mitigate an impact to the extent that the impact on MSES would not be considered to be significant, this could negate the requirement for an offset. This
circumstance would need, as a minimum, to consider:
• the extent and duration of impact on the matter and its sensitivity to disturbance
• timeframe for rehabilitation relative to the impact occurring and the ability of the matter to maintain its viability during this timeframe
• likely success of rehabilitation works to return the impacted matter to its original condition and
• the time-lag effect—between impact and rehabilitation successfully delivering the original condition for the matter—on the matter’s viability.
Rehabilitated land can be considered as an offset for future projects, it cannot be considered as a meeting the offset obligation for the project that is subject to the rehabilitation condition.
1.3 Criteria to determine a significant impact This guideline outlines the criteria for identifying when an impact on prescribed environmental matters—matters of State environmental significance—may be significant. Please note that this document is for guidance only, and the context of the impact needs to be considered for each development, with decisions based on detailed site assessment.
Where an activity impacts on more than one matter, the significance of the impact on each matter will need to be identified and assessed.
The significant impact criteria provide a trigger for consideration of offsets. Once this trigger has been met or exceeded, then the total of the impact is included for consideration—not just the component of impact exceeding the criteria.
NOTE: In the interests of aligning with Commonwealth assessment requirements, the significant residual impact criteria for some matters (for example, protected wildlife habitat) have been developed in a manner that is consistent with the Commonwealth’s significant impact guideline for the purpose of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EBPCA).
2. Regulated vegetation
Regulated vegetation is a 'prescribed regional ecosystem' that:
• is an endangered or of concern regional ecosystem, as defined under the Vegetation Management Act 1999;
• intersects with an area shown on the vegetation management wetlands map, as defined under the Vegetation Management Act 1999, to remove doubt this refers to that component of a regional ecosystem that lies within a mapped wetland; or
• is located within the defined distance from the defining banks of a watercourse identified on the vegetation management watercourse map, as defined under the Vegetation Management Act 1999.
Criteria for identifying when an impact on essential habitat for threatened species, other than koalas in South East Queensland, may be significant is outlined in section 5 (Protected wildlife habitat) of this guideline. Criteria for koalas in South East Queensland are outlined in section 6 of this guideline.
The definition of prescribed regional ecosystem is in the Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014, and does not include regrowth vegetation.
Within an urban area, as defined under the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009, an environmental offset may only be required for significant residual impacts on endangered regional ecosystems.
Table 1 details significant residual impact criteria for regulated vegetation. Where the criteria indicated by ticks have been exceeded (refer to table notes), this indicates a significant residual impact.
For a prescribed activity to have a significant residual impact on a regional ecosystem that lies within a mapped wetland, criteria 1 and 2 must be exceeded.
For a prescribed activity to have a significant residual impact on a regional ecosystem that is within the defined distance of watercourses, criteria 1 and 3 must be exceeded.
The values of the wetland and watercourses themselves are not covered in this section (only the vegetation associated with these natural features) —the values of the wetland and watercourses themselves are considered in section 5.
Dense regional ecosystem is a regional ecosystem with a dense structural category in the Regional Ecosystem Description Database (REDD), which is available to download from www.ehp.qld.gov.au (search for ‘download REDD’) Defining bank is the bank which confines the seasonal flows but may be inundated by flooding from time to time.
This can be either:
a) the bank or terrace that confines the water before the point of flooding, or
b) where there is no bank the seasonal high water line which represents the point of flooding.
Note: further guidance on a defining bank can be found at Department of Natural Resources and Mines website (available in chapter 4.7 of the ‘Managing weeds—a self-assessable vegetation clearing code’ from www.dnrm.qld.gov.au (search for ‘managing weeds’).
Mid-dense regional ecosystem is a regional ecosystem with a mid-dense structural category in the Regional Ecosystem Description Database (REDD), which is available to download from www.ehp.qld.gov.au (search for ‘download REDD’) Sparse regional ecosystem is a regional ecosystem with a sparse structural category in the Regional Ecosystem Description Database (REDD), which is available to download from www.ehp.qld.gov.au (search for ‘download REDD’) 6