Federal and state governments regulations require all major infrastructure projects, such as HumeLink, to undergo a robust environmental assessment before considering approval of them.
On 11 February 2022, Transgrid submitted a Scoping Report to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) for HumeLink that presents a preliminary assessment of the potential impacts from the project. These will be further assessed for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
DPE reviewed the Scoping Report and on 15 March 2022 issued the Planning Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). The SEARs sets out issues that must be addressed in the EIS.
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) is also examining potential impacts of the project for Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES).
To read the current SEARs, documents submitted to DPE, and formal responses from the department to Transgrid, visit the department’s HumeLink webpage.
Rit-t process and submissions
As part of the regulatory approval process, Transgrid was required to demonstrate HumeLink’s benefits to consumers using a three-part market benefits test. This Regulatory Investment Test – Transmission (RIT-T) is the public economic cost benefit test administered by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) on all projects of more than $6 million. The documents include:
Project Specification Conclusions Report (PSCR) - detailed the need to reinforce the transmission network in southern NSW to increase capacity to the state's demand centres and describes credible options to meet the need, including technical characteristics that would be required of a non-network option.
Project Assessment Draft Report (PADR) - a full quantitative analysis of the proposed options and expected market benefit across a range of scenarios and sensitivities, published as supporting documents.
Project Assessment Conclusions Report (PACR) - addresses PADR consultation responses and determines the final preferred option.
Project Assessment Conclusions Report (PACR) Addendum - this addendum has been prepared in response to the AER's dispute determination and extends the analysis presented in the HumeLink PACR published in July 2021.
Contingent Project Application
A Contingent Project Application (CPA) is the application a regulated business like Transgrid makes to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to amend its revenue determination to include cost recovery from consumers for a project such as HumeLink.
On 5 April 2022, Transgrid submitted its HumeLink application to the AER to change the revenue determination to include cost recovery from customers for the project.
The public were invited to make a submission directly to the AER before 30 May 2022.
The HumeLink application and submissions are available to view on the AER website.
Regulatory documents and submissions are also available to view in the resources section.
The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) and Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 (EP&A Regulation) form the statutory framework for environmental assessment and planning approval in NSW.
As part of the planning approval process for HumeLink, the project is required to prepare an EIS in accordance with the Planning Secretary’s environmental assessment requirements (SEARs).
This project will also require a Commonwealth Government approval as the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), formerly Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) has determined it is a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Under a bilateral agreement between the State and Commonwealth, the EIS will satisfy the assessment requirement of both. However, HumeLink will need an environmental approval from both the NSW and Commonwealth governments.
The project team is continuing work on the Environmental Impact Statement to understand the potential environmental, social and economic impacts HumeLink may have. At the same time, while the project progresses through the regulatory requirements, the team continues to engage with communities, stakeholders and government agencies.
Read the Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on the Environmental approvals: