Peter Mac – The Guardian
The NSW "Biobank" scheme is a good example of reactionary government-sponsored conservation trading arrangements to "protect" sites of natural significance. Under Biobank, a developer can clear and develop such a site, provided they protect another comparable site.
There are at least two major problems with this arrangement. Firstly, a development site may contain flora and/or fauna which are not found on the second site. In some cases they may be found in few other places, or even nowhere else.
Secondly, if carried to its logical conclusion, the scheme is a recipe for progressively halving the number of sites of natural significance. Under the normal laws of logic, if each of two sites is sufficiently important to warrant being kept, then both of them should be protected. However, under Biobank, only one needs to be protected, while the other may be sacrificed.
In anticipation of the scheme being launched, the developer Hardie Holdings has bought up 7000 hectares of Hunter Valley land of prime natural significance for development. Its subsidiary company, Eco Trades, is attempting to persuade various local landowners to buy into the scheme.