Draft policy for determining environmental offsets in the Northern Territory released for comment

18 Dec 2019

Proponents and the community alike have an opportunity to shape the guidance on offsets to be used to compensate the residual environmental impacts of projects in the Territory, with the release of the NT Government's Draft Northern Territory Offsets Policy for public consultation.

Feedback on the Draft NT Offsets Policy must be in by Friday 14 February 2020. 

Draft Offsets Policy

Similar to those in other Australian jurisdictions and the Australian Government, the Draft NT Offsets Policy's purpose is to guide the identification and implementation of mandatory and voluntary offsets (including biodiversity and carbon offsets) provided by proponents to compensate for the residual environmental impacts associated with their project.

The Draft NT Offsets Policy would apply to:

  • projects assessed through the new environmental impact assessment process under the Environment Protection Act 2019;
  • projects proceeding through
    • other regulatory approval processes prescribed through the Environment Protection Regulations 2019 where an assessment of the environmental impacts has identified that the development proposal is likely to have residual impacts that cannot be avoided or mitigated by the proposed management measures; and
    • voluntary offsets.

The Draft NT Offsets Policy aims to ensure that the identification of offsets being delivered to compensate for significant residual impacts of a project is informed by best available science and stakeholder participation, using the following principles when determining the adequacy of a proponent's proposed offset:

  • Offsets must contribute positively to relevant Territory environmental targets;
  • Offsets will not always be available or appropriate;
  • The mitigation hierarchy must be rigorously applied;
  • Offsets to be designed to deliver maximum benefit to the Territory;
  • Benefits of offsets must be additional and secured;
  • Disclosure and transparency is required;
  • Participation with communities and stakeholders is critical; and
  • Offsets must be knowledge-based and design must be responsive.

It is understood that the Draft NT Offsets Policy will be supported by detailed guidelines which are currently being developed.

Have your say

Feedback on the Draft NT Offsets Policy can be provided by completing the online survey by 14 February 2020.  Once finalised, the Draft NT Offsets Policy will give clearer guidance for the creation of offsets, therefore proponents should be reviewing it now and considering making a submission.

If you would like to understand the possible impact of the Draft Offsets Policy on your business, or would like help in drafting a submission, please contact us.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.