The locations of native animals and plants and significant aboriginal findings can be seen on an interactive digital tool being used as part of the environmental investigations on the EnergyConnect project.
Executive Manager of Major Projects Sean McGoldrick said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the NSW-Western Section of the project was a great tool for local communities.
“Communities can now see the specific locations of fauna and flora species, native vegetation, landscape features, key project proposals and other significant findings identified during the environmental surveys on the Transgrid website,” said Mr McGoldrick.
“Consulting and engaging with the community and providing regular project updates on this project is a priority. We have also produced a booklet to help guide people through the EIS, conducted field meetings with key stakeholders and held community information sessions,” he said.
EnergyConnect, a proposed new 900km electricity interconnector (transmission line) will run from Wagga Wagga, NSW to Robertstown, SA, with a connection to Red Cliffs, Victoria. Transgrid is delivering the NSW sections of the project - the NSW-Western Section and the NSW-Eastern Section.
The EIS for the NSW-Western Section, which is from Chowilla on the SA/NSW border to Buronga, NSW and from Buronga to Monak at the NSW/Victorian border, is on public exhibition until 10 December, 2020.
“Transgrid has been consulting extensively with the community, local businesses, landholders, government agencies and other stakeholders to inform the route of the proposed new transmission line and develop the EIS, with almost 900 engagement activities conducted since November 2018", Mr McGoldrick said.
Transgrid’s team recently travelled to Lake Victoria, west of Wentworth, to meet with the Barkindji Maraura Elders Council (BMEC), a delegation of Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Owners. Discussions with the BMEC and the Barkindji Maraura Elders Environment Team (BMEET) provided valuable insights on how we can best work collaboratively to protect significant heritage sites and findings.
This included: investigating further opportunities for younger members of the BMEC to participate in on country activities such as field surveying, monitoring and conservation management; the importance of a mitigation strategy to minimise impacts on cultural heritage sites; continuous engagement throughout the project; and ensuring the Aboriginal Community is consulted during salvage and repatriation of any significant findings.
Technical specialists and project representatives also held four community information sessions in Buronga and Wentworth to provide a project update, including details about the EIS findings and to explain the EIS submission process.
The EIS was prepared to assess economic and social impacts, visual amenity and environmental issues, including biodiversity and cultural heritage and to identify the strategies to avoid, mitigate and manage potential impacts.
Community members and key stakeholders are encouraged to view the EIS and provide submissions via the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) website.
DPIE will summarise the information and publish all submissions received. Transgrid will consider the feedback and provide a response in a Submissions Report which will be made publicly available. EnergyConnect is expected to provide lower energy bills, approximately 1500 jobs and deliver an economic benefit to NSW of $4 billion. The project is expected to result in increased regional economic activity and greater competition among renewable generators and a more secure and reliable energy supply.
Further details about the project are available on the EnergyConnect project page.
Michelle Stone 0438 293917