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Applying for general release or release with controls

Identification and assessment of risks, costs and benefits

Benefits and cost-benefit analysis

As with risks and costs, the importance of the benefits is a function of the magnitude of the benefits and the likelihood that those benefits will be achieved. Monetary benefits accrue from reduction in control costs and/or increase in productivity.

The magnitude of benefits must be a marginal estimate, in other words, what is the value of the improvement over and above the current scenario? The likelihood of achieving those benefits is dependent on the maximum predicted efficacy of the biological control agent, and the frequency (spatially or temporally) with which those benefits will accrue.

Cost-benefit analysis can be a useful way of summarising the beneficial effects of a biological control agent over time where there is good information about the expected effects of the biological control agent. Where cost-benefit analysis is used, the expected benefits will commonly be discounted over time, so that short-term benefits are given greater weight than long-term benefits. The discount rate will have a significant effect on the present value of future benefits of biological control agents because in most cases there will be a long lead time before benefits are fully realised, and it may also be a long time before any effect will be observed.

This approach is not mandatory, as a reliable analysis relies heavily on good data and assumptions. Where these are not available, discussion of the benefits under various scenarios is sufficient. Non-monetary benefits can also be captured in this way.

It is advisable to consult the EPA, or submit a draft before submitting the application to ensure that risk, cost and benefit analysis is adequate.