On 8 December 2019, the Queensland Government released the Draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-2024 (Strategy) for public consultation. The Strategy was developed in consultation with representatives from the community, business, and development sectors in order to address the primary causes of koala decline in South East Queensland (SEQ).
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation (Koala Protection) Amendment Regulation 2020 (Regulation) commenced on 7 February 2020. The Regulation amends four pieces of subordinate legislation associated with the regulation of koala habitat in Queensland which include the following:
- Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014;
- Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017;
- Planning Regulation 2017; and
- Vegetation Management Regulation 2012.
The overall objective of the Regulation is to provide increased protection to koala habitat areas in the SEQ area, focussing on the following key areas:
Koala habitat areas and Koala Protection Area mapping
Koala habitat areas were identified using improved mapping and modelling studies, introducing Koala Protection Areas (KPAs) to strategically focus efforts for habitat protection, habitat restoration and threat abatement strategies within areas that have the highest likelihood of achieving conservation outcomes for koalas;
Planning controls for koala habitat areas and KPAs
Stricter planning controls within designated KPAs which aim to achieve a clearly understood approach to how koala habitat is managed within SEQ. Koala habitat outside of KPAs will also be protected and assessed under a new State code;
Offsets for clearing koala habitat areas
The Regulation will enable impacts to koala habitat areas to be offset under the Environmental Offsets Framework; and
Amendment to the Vegetation Management Regulation 2012
Revocation of five previous Accepted Development Vegetation Clearing Codes (ADVCCs) with a further five ADVCCs approved by the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy in December 2019, which variously include clearing for an extractive industry, clearing for infrastructure, managing regulated regrowth vegetation, managing weeds, and necessary environmental clearing.
The Strategy and Regulations have the potential to significantly restrict or increase the cost of greenfield developments in South East Queensland, particularly in growth areas such as Coomera, the Redlands and Ipswich.
We will be monitoring the Government’s implementation of the Strategy and Regulations respectively, and will update you accordingly.
This article was written by Peter Bittner, Partner, Luke Walker, Senior Associate and Chris Vale, Law Graduate.