IMPACT: Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell has urged Lake Macquarie City Council to reconsider the plan.FIRST-HOME buyers would be priced out of the market and development projects would grind to a halt if Lake Macquarie City Council voted in favour of the Biodiversity Offsets Policy, opponents say.
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The council would be the first in the state to introduce the policy if it was voted in tonight and the increased cost has been estimated at $2000 per block of land.

The offsets policy is designed to protect all biodiversity, not just threatened species or endangered ecological communities.

Biodiversity protection policies already exist at state and federal level and opponents say another one would simply increase costs for developers that would be passed onto home buyers.

‘‘I would ask all Lake Macquarie councillors to seriously consider the implications of this policy for new-home buyers,’’ Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said.

‘‘We’ve inherited a planning system that could be best described as confused and now you’ve got another layer of bureaucracy potentially being added by local government.’’

Property Council of Australia regional director Andrew Fletcher warned the Lake Macquarie council against introducing the policy.

‘‘It’s the brainchild of the council’s sustainability department that now employs 36 people with a budget of $12.4million,’’ Mr Fletcher said.

Developer Hilton Grugeon said the policy would cost a lot more than the council’s estimation $2000 ‘‘and it doesn’t cost the developer, it costs the buyer of the land’’.

A spokeswoman for the council said having a local policy would provide clarity and consistency on how the current requirements would be applied.

‘‘Biodiversity offsets are a legislative requirement where development adversely impacts on biodiversity values,’’ she said.