Logan City Council is blazing forward with innovative implementation of its Environmental Offsets Policy (within Policy 3 of the Logan Planning Scheme 2015) via its online ‘Environmental Offset Estimate Request’ (The Estimator). The Estimator is a great tool for use in project planning and while it has been available for a few months now, we still find that this is news to our client partners. As such, we have put together this brief and general overview for your reading pleasure…
In summary, the estimator enables a party with an interest in a property (in the City of Logan) to obtain an indication of the cost to resolve an offset obligation pursuant to the Environmental Offsets Policy. We understand that the cost estimate that is ultimately output by the estimator is based on desktop constraint designations (i.e. ‘Ecological Significance’ mapping of the Logan Planning Scheme) and the area of each ecological significance category proposed to be cleared. The cost estimate is produced on the basis that the landholder wishes to deliver a financial settlement offset (i.e. acquit offset obligation via a contribution to Council).
The estimator (Environmental Offset Request) can be accessed via the ‘Property Info’ tab of the Logan Interactive Mapping Tool. You can draw the area that is proposed to be cleared and then submit the ‘Offset Estimate Request’ so the offset estimate can be emailed to you. This can be used to get an initial view of whether a Council offset is likely to be applicable to your proposal and what the ballpark costs are.
Some of the matters to consider in offset planning include:
- Accuracy of constraints designations – ground-truth the site to determine whether constraints mapping is accurate. Otherwise you may find yourself offsetting for a matter that isn’t actually present;
- Seek to avoid – think outside the box to minimise (or even avoid) a costly requirement to offset;
- Check the triggers – the Environment Offset Request does not take all exemptions into account which may be applicable to a given site. See Council’s Protected Vegetation Fact sheet for more detail on exemptions. Further, beware; environmental offset obligations can also be triggered via State and Federal Government level. A lack of offset triggers at Local Government level does not necessarily mean that offsets are not applicable; and
- Consider your options – there are a number of ways to resolve an offset obligation. Paying a financial settlement to government is not your only option. Other options include proponent driven offsets and restoration offsets. For instance, New Ground routinely identifies proponent driven offset opportunities for our clients which result in a commercially favourable outcome and can be leveraged to give uplift to the client’s social licence. A ‘restoration offset’ is generally applicable to a small-scale offset where the offset can be delivered on the same lot as the impact.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Nelson Wills (email@example.com) should you wish to talk offsets!
This blog is intended as a general overview at the time of writing and should not be construed as project or situation-specific advice.