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NSW Parliamentary Library Research Service

these environmental outcomes. The regulations have also adopted and gazetted the related document, Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology. This document, which defines the scientific methodology to determine the outcomes, is applied using a computer based decision support software known as the PVP Developer. This software weighs up the positive and negative benefits of different management actions helping assessment officers to make decisions based on the best scientific information available. The PVP Developer will be used by Catchment Management Authorities to assist farmers prepare Property Vegetation Plans and determine whether broadscale clearing improves or maintains environmental outcomes.

The overall impacts of proposed broadscale clearing are to be determined by separately assessing the impacts of the proposal on:

  • water quality;

  • salinity;

  • biodiversity; and

  • land degradation.

The PVP Developer contains key questions and scientific standards to assess broadscale clearing for each of these areas. The software allows local environmental variables and details of the clearing and any offset proposals to be entered into the computer. The results assist decision makers to determine whether the proposed broadscale clearing is to be regarded as improving or maintaining environmental outcomes in accordance with this Environmental Outcomes Assessment Methodology.

If the PVP Developer determines that a proposed broadscale clearing will not result in an improved or maintain environmental outcomes, the regulations permit an accredited expert to make an assessment as to whether the proposed clearing will improve or maintain environmental outcomes if they are of the opinion that:

  • a minor variation to the methodology would result in a positive determination; and

  • strict adherence to the Assessment Methodology is in this particular case

unreasonable and unnecessary.

However, there are six factors that an expert cannot vary, including: riparian buffer distances; classification of vegetation as likely habitat for threatened species; classification of a plant species as a threatened species; classification of the vegetation type or landscape type as over cleared; and the assessment of the regional value of vegetation.


Stakeholder Response to the Regulations

In response to the gazettal of the Regulations, NSW Farmers stated that whilst the new system has potential, the Regulations are too prescriptive. NSW Farmers will continue to

press the Government to deliver:

  • A “broadscale” clearing policy that does not require approval for clearing individual trees. The policy should focus on delivering landscape scale outcomes and not the micro-management of individual plants;

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