Major transmission projects are providing unprecedented opportunities to perpetually preserve biodiversity on large swathes of land as Transgrid steps up its efforts to protect native flora and fauna across NSW.
21 July 2023
Transgrid is establishing one of the biggest Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements in NSW history, protecting valuable habitat and one of Australia’s most endangered birds across a vast property as part of the nation’s largest electricity transmission project.
It comes as the transmission infrastructure leader updates its Biodiversity Strategy to ensure a co-ordinated approach across its projects to minimising ecological impacts.
“Transgrid is leading the transition to a clean energy future, and this gives us the opportunity to be at the forefront of preserving NSW’s valuable biodiversity,” Transgrid CEO Brett Redman said.
“We are committed to making a positive contribution to our social licence and leaving a lasting legacy in communities where we operate.”
Transgrid is finalising a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement (BSA) on an 8,700ha property in southwestern NSW, ensuring the protection of five threatened species of flora and fauna including the critically endangered Plains-wanderer, as well as a threatened ecological community of Weeping Myall.
The property has a unique mix of native grasslands and red clay habitats occupied by a significant population of Plains-wanderer birds. It also adjoins a national park, significantly increasing the conservation area.
The NSW Government has also approved the company’s first BSA on a 6,600ha property called Big Bend at Rufus near the NSW-Victoria border. This will result in the protection of four threatened species of flora including the largest population of the critically endangered Desert Hopbush.
“These key sites have been extensively studied by the experts and management plans are being put in place to protect and enhance significant species and their habitats in perpetuity,” Mr Redman said.
Transgrid has also signed memorandums of understanding with the owners of another three sites totalling 6,800ha in south-west NSW to investigate additional BSAs.
The BSAs will offset the biodiversity impact of most of Transgrid’s $1.8 billion EnergyConnect interconnector – the nation’s largest transmission project – from Wagga Wagga to the South Australian border.
Transgrid is also calling for expressions of interest from landowners for potential BSAs as part of its HumeLink project which will connect Wagga Wagga, Bannaby and Maragle.
“We are inviting landowners to partner with us on this important journey,” Mr Redman said.
WSP Principal Ecologist Mark Stables, who has extensively surveyed Transgrid’s two BSA sites to determine their biodiversity values, said the company is at the forefront of delivering NSW’s Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.
“These are some of the largest BSA sites in NSW that are delivering really robust, like-for-like large offsets that will protect biodiversity values intersected by their project. These are really good outcomes and it is a credit to Transgrid.”
Transgrid is legally required to avoid and minimise biodiversity impacts during major transmission project lifecycles, including route selection, concept design, environmental assessment, construction and operation.
The organisation is also committing significant resources to its Biodiversity Strategy over and above these requirements, including:
- Protecting and enhancing biodiversity by establishing BSAs with local landowners, land councils, and indigenous agencies
- Supporting biodiversity across existing Transgrid land, with a three-year pilot program to rehabilitate substation sites in the state’s Southern Tablelands and Central West
- Establishing an innovative Biodiversity Community Partnership Scheme to connect with communities along project footprints to identify target species and key conservation areas.
“We are actively investing in increasing biodiversity and working with landholders and traditional owners so our natural heritage is protected and enhanced for future generations,” Mr Redman said.
“Our biodiversity strategy will bring a co-ordinated approach to creating environmental, economic and social benefits across all of our activities including our new major projects and existing infrastructure.”
Biodiversity Offsets Scheme
- Transgrid major transmission projects declared as Critical State Significant Infrastructure are subject to the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS)
- The company is required to document, via its Environmental Impact Statements, how project impacts on biodiversity will be avoided and minimised, with the remaining residual impacts to be offset in accordance with the BOS
- Offsets can be achieved by establishing Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements (BSAs), purchasing and/or retiring recognised biodiversity credits, or payment to the Biodiversity Conservation Fund
- The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust recognises BSAs as the highest level of conservation protection possible on private land
- BSAs result in fully funded site actions to increase biodiversity including the management of native vegetation, threatened species habitat, weeds, human disturbance and pest animals.
Threatened species preserved on Transgrid BSA sites
- Vulnerable – Mossgiel Daisy, Chariot Wheels, Slender Darling Pea
- Endangered – Plains-wanderer, Winged Peppercress, Harrow Wattle, Bluebush Daisy, Bitter Quandong, Weeping Myall
- Critically endangered – Desert Hopbush.
Transgrid media contact:
Michelle Stone 0438 293 917