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There is growing recognition of the crucial role councils may play in biodiversity conservation. Various problems serve to thwart Local Government’s potential, including fiscal constraints, fragmentation of jurisdiction and outdated values. To date, much attention has focused on development control under the planning system, as recently amended by the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW). Closer scrutiny of Local Government planning practice, however, reveals a regime that confers substantial discretion on local decision-makers to welcome development at the expense of habitat retention. Better information, whilst important, does not in itself conserve biodiversity. This paper argues that extension of planning tools beyond regulation will assist Local Government to assume the important role predicted in official documents such as the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.

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