Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Snowy-Hydro claims 114 ha disturbance of National Heritage listed National Park is NOT a significant impact

“Snowy Hydro’s is seeking to short cut assessment for its initial 4.4 kilometre access tunnel proposal[1] of its massive Snowy 2.0 project.  The so-called exploration proposal will bulldoze 114 hectares of Kosciuszko National Park but Snowy Hydro claims this disturbance of a National Heritage listed national park is not a significant impact.  If successful with this claim, a Federal Government approval and a detailed national heritage assessment will not be required for this tunnel development.  This claims fails the “pub test” as 114 hectares of disturbance in a national park surely must be a significant impact in anyone’s book,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“If the Federal Department of Environment and Energy agrees with Snowy-Hydro, well then, Snowy Hydro can install the Federal environmental assessment goal posts in its swanky Millers Point office to nicely offset its lovely water views to the Harbour Bridge – as that decision will be an absolute rort of the assessment system!,” Mr Muir said.

“Snowy Hydro also needs to explain to the authorities that its proposal, if approved, will close public access to thousands of hectares of Kosciuszko National Park in the Ravine region, including a camp ground, for the duration of the Snowy 2.0 project,” he said.  “Denial of public access essentially privatises a vast area of national park by exclusive possession, yet that fact somehow is omitted from Snowy Hydro’s referral document made under Federal environmental law”, he added.

“If the current proposal is approved, construction of these major works can commence before the Snowy 2.0 pump-storage project is approved under Federal or NSW law in true “Alice in Wonderland fashion”.  Government expenditure will then be locked in without adequate consideration of the project”, said Mr Muir.

Snowy Hydro attempt at short-cut access to government funds for its multi-billion dollar development is out of touch with reality.  The tunnel development proposal shows contempt of due process, national parks and the national heritage listing system,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

For more information, see review articleSnowy-hydro 2 risks significant damage to Kosciuszko National Park
and the Colong Foundation's submissions on the EPBC project referral and its listing Upper House Inquiry into Critical State Significant Infrastructure.

[1] The proposal includes 4.4 kilometre main access tunnel to the proposed Machine Hall cavern.  The proposed main access tunnel will be a concrete lined D-shaped tunnel 8 by 8 metres wide and generate 750,000 m3 of rock waste that will cover 10 hectares of national park beside Yarrangobilly River. A construction pad will cover another 20 hectares beside this river.  The access portal and accommodation sites will require a further 3 hectares to be cleared and levelled. In total 114 ha will be disturbed.