Coal companies to earn green credits

A NEW biodiversity initiative will encourage mining and related companies to create “biobank” sites to offset the impacts of development on biodiversity values in return for credits which can be bought or sold.
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Staff Reporter

Subject to the regulations, biobank sites will be able to be established on any land, with most sites likely to be established in coastal areas near to where development is occurring and demand for credits is high.

The NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) has applauded the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) for its proposal to develop the scheme, which is hoped to improve biodiversity management in the state.

The Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Biodiversity Banking) Bill 2006 has passed the Lower House and is soon to be debated in the Upper House.

NSWMC chief executive Dr Nikki Williams said the council had made several submissions and worked closely with the DEC throughout the development of the legislation and supported the Bill.

She said the minerals industry is potentially both a buyer and seller of credits under the proposed scheme.

“It may be that mining companies need to purchase credits to ensure minimal impact on biodiversity values from mining developments, but they could equally be a provider of credits through establishing offsets on the large buffer areas that surround mines,” Williams said.

The temporary nature of mining also presents opportunities for the industry to develop biobank sites, once mining has been completed and the land has been rehabilitated.

“NSWMC, and the industry which it represents, supports the concept of offsets and the biobanking scheme. It will provide greater certainty for the industry on the use of offsets and will also offer the industry additional opportunities for locating offset sites,” Williams said.

Many NSW mining companies are already well versed in the use of offsets, having undertaken many projects in the past to offset the temporary loss of vegetation from mining developments.