TWO of the region’s biggest projects have reached the next stage of development.
The Northern Inland Rail connection between Narromine and Narrabri, and the Rangoon Wind Farm near Glen Innes have been issued their Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS).
Issued by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPIE), the SEARS outline what the projects will need to do to limit their impact on the environment.
Both projects are considered state-significant developments and the SEARS process will help form the basis for each project’s environmental impact statement (EIS).
Meridian Energy Australia is behind the $200 million wind farm. The company’s head of asset development, Angus Holcombe, said it was exciting to see the project reach the milestone.
“The big items for a project like this, which also includes a battery energy storage component, are things like the visual impact assessment, the ecology and biodiversity assessment,” Mr Holcombe told the Leader.
“The acoustic assessment is another critical report we need to prepare, the Aboriginal and cultural impact assessment and a range of others as well.
“Some of those we have already started and others are still to come, but it is very exciting to have reached this stage.”
Much like the Rangoon Wind Farm, the section of the Northern Inland Rail’s EIS will address similar assessments.
Mr Holcombe said he was confident the company could complete its EIS by the first half of 2021.
“At this stage we are targeting the submission of an EIS in the first half of next year, but we will see how it goes,” he said.
“It is an extensive part of the project and putting an EIS together is a major milestone in itself.
“However, it is just part of development in NSW and we are looking at a capital investment of upwards $200 to $250 million.
“It’s a significant commitment and we need to ensure we get all of the studies right.”
The project signals the beginning of the state government’s New England Renewable Energy Zone, which was announced earlier this year.
“What will happen next, which has already started happening, is all of the community and stakeholder engagement,” Mr Holcombe said.
“It is a very important part of the project and we encourage any stakeholders interested in sharing their feedback to get in touch with us via our website.”
The project is expected to created 150 construction jobs.