'It just doesn't stack up': experts want independent review into Snowy Hydro 2.0

'It just doesn't stack up': experts want independent review into Snowy Hydro 2.0

News
Malcolm Turnbull with Snowy Hydro chief Paul Broad at Talbingo in 2017 after the Snowy Hydro 2.0 announcement. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Malcolm Turnbull with Snowy Hydro chief Paul Broad at Talbingo in 2017 after the Snowy Hydro 2.0 announcement. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Aa

There are fears the budget will potentially blow out to as much as $10 billion.

Aa

Critics of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project have called for an independent review of the project, saying it will lead to higher energy prices and threaten the future of Australia's only alpine region.

A team of 30 experts have written to state and federal leaders requesting they allow a "comprehensive public review of Snowy 2.0 and alternative energy management options" before the pumped storage project is approved by the federal government.

Former EnergyAustralia managing director Ted Woodley said the project's budget will potentially blow out to as much as $10 billion, and is likely the largest commercial project to be seen in any national park in the world.

"We have looked at the project from all angles, and it just doesn't stack up," Mr Woodley said.

"There is a great deal of opposition to the project. The environmental impacts are huge, and there are cheaper, more efficient and more environmentally friendly options.

"What the real tragedy is, is that there are better options within the Snowy scheme. The nonsense about this being a 'green' battery is just a total myth. It is not powered by renewable energy and it is in a national park.

"This project is way beyond anything approved within a national park, probably in the world."

REVIEW CALL: Ngarigo elder and chairperson of the Southern Kosciuszko Executive Advisory Committee, Aunty Iris White. Picture: NSW Department of Planning

REVIEW CALL: Ngarigo elder and chairperson of the Southern Kosciuszko Executive Advisory Committee, Aunty Iris White. Picture: NSW Department of Planning

Ngarigo elder and chairperson of the Southern Kosciuszko executive advisory committee, Aunty Iris White, described the experts involved in the open letter to government as "champions".

"I sincerely hope their voices are able to influence on a level that we have never quite managed to do," she said.

Deputy Premier and Monaro MP John Barilaro said the recent approval of the Snowy Hydro Segment Factory, which will make cement tunnel segments for the project, will create "more than 150 new jobs".

"The Snowy Hydro Scheme is part of the folklore of the Monaro and this approval means work can get underway on a critical part of the project's infrastructure which will provide huge benefits and job opportunities for the area," Mr Barilaro said.

The government is working to move "shovel-ready projects out the door, to create jobs and drive investment into our local economies during these extraordinary times," Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said in a statement.

A scoping report by EMM Consulting, reveals the Future Generation Joint Venture (FGJV) owned plant will operate for 24 hours a day, every day for three years, and segments transported to construction sites within the Kosciousko National Park.

The report says 30 jobs will be created during construction, and 125 to run the plant until it is decommissioned after construction of the scheme.

FGJV has been contracted by Snowy Hydro Limited to construct Snowy 2.0, and is a joint venture between Australian company Clough, Italian company Salini Impregilo and American company Lane Construction.

Mr Woodley said proposed barriers to prevent pest fish like the Redfin Perch and diseases from spreading to the Murrumbidgee, Tumut, Thredbo, Snowy and Murray Rivers, despite being the biggest in the world, will likely not work.

He said the tourism industry will be hit hard, especially recreational fishing.

"You can't expect the barrier will stop all these fish and nasty diseases. The barriers haven't been tested, and the dam will spill at some point and the fish will just go over," he said.

"This project will almost certainly result in the extinction of the threatened stocky galaxias, and the costs are obviously greater than the market benefits.

"Even Snowy modelling shows the price of energy [for consumer's] will go up."

Mr Woodley said the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the main works of the project is likely to be submitted for approval "within days" and said the project and possible alternatives should be reviewed by independent experts.

"This is standard practice for large, complex infrastructure projects especially when the risk is borne by the Australian public," he said.

"We believe a review would provide the commonwealth government with a face-saving 'out' when the review finds, inevitably in our view, that the project is unviable and of no net benefit," Mr Woodley said.

"Also, the findings of a review would provide crucial input to the NSW Government's consideration of the EIS."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by