22 May 2020

Jobs boost for region as Snowy 2.0 passes planning approval

| Michael Weaver
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Aerial view of Tantangara Dam.

Tantangara Dam is a key storage facility for the Snowy 2.0 project. Photo: Supplied.

Jobs have already been advertised and up to 2000 new positions will be created after the main works for the Snowy 2.0 project passed the planning approval phase by the NSW Government on 21 May.

While exploratory works continue to progress onsite, the project will now be referred to the Federal Government for final approval before main works construction commences in the coming months.

However, preparations for the project are well advanced with most of the Snowy 2.0 workforce to live in a temporary custom-built township.

Much of the project’s work involves expanding the network of 145km of tunnels that are buried deep beneath the Snowy Mountains. A further 40km of tunnels will be built for Snowy 2.0.

NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said $4.6 billion will be injected into regional NSW with Australia’s biggest energy storage project passing the planning approval stage.

“Snowy Hydro is an icon of our community, with Snowy 2.0 already employing about 500 people, directly injecting more than $35 million into the Snowy Mountains and involving more than 100 local businesses,” said Mr Barilaro.

“This latest approval will see the creation of an extra 2000 jobs during the construction phase, unlock billions of dollars in investment in regional NSW, and allow the next stage of construction to further progress this legacy project.”

The Snowy 2.0 project involves the construction of a pumped hydro power station that sits about 800m underground and is approximately 240m long.

It also includes the construction of 27km of tunnels between the Talbingo and Tantangara reservoirs, lined with 130,500 concrete segments manufactured locally in Polo Flat.

Significant upgrades to roads in that area are also in progress to allow heavy machinery to operate.

Once complete, the project will add 350-gigawatt hours of energy storage and 2000 megawatts of generation capacity to the state’s grid, which is enough to power 500,000 homes during peak demand.

Snowy 2.0 will also play a major role in the National Electricity Market by facilitating the development of renewable energy and putting downward pressure on electricity prices.

Inflow diagram for the Snowy 2.0 project.

The inflow diagram for the Snowy 2.0 project. Photo: Supplied, Snowy Hydro.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the project’s approval includes strict conditions to minimise and offset its environmental impact.

“In March, we approved the Snowy 2.0 segment factory, and this month we have approved the Snowy 2.0 main works, enabling the creation of new jobs and the flow of substantial investment into our state,” he said.

“The project’s approval also requires Snowy Hydro to invest almost $100 million in biodiversity and environmental offsets to protect threatened species and deliver long-term conservation and recreational benefits for the Kosciuszko National Park.”

As part of the planning approval, Snowy Hydro will also be required to invest $5 million to develop a captive breeding program for threatened fish species stocky galaxias and Macquarie perch, while fish screens will be installed to minimise the risk of transfer of pest species downstream.

An app will be developed to share information gathered for the project with visitors to the national park, and to help restore native vegetation and threatened species’ habitat once construction infrastructure is decommissioned.

Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said the announcement is another major milestone for Snowy 2.0, which is progressing full steam ahead and creating jobs and significant investment in regional communities.

“Snowy Hydro has been operating responsibly in Kosciuszko National Park for almost 70 years,” he said. “For a small and temporary construction footprint covering just 0.10 per cent of the park, we will deliver 2000MW of large-scale energy storage to support many other wind and solar projects coming online.”

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