Transgrid invites landowners to join biodiversity program

Landowner inspects vegetation (biodiversity)
Image: Transgrid

Electricity customers will benefit from lower prices in the future and see positive outcomes for the environment, as Transgrid activates an innovative approach to biodiversity management on its major transmission projects.

Executive manager of delivery Craig Stallan said, “Transgrid is focused on driving down the price of our major projects to cut electricity bills for consumers and also deliver the best possible outcomes for the environment.

“We have proactively developed innovative Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements (BSAs), which will generate significant outcomes for native flora and fauna by protecting their habitats.

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Transgrid has begun engaging with landowners in the state’s far west as it prepares to build the nation’s largest transmission project EnergyConnect—a new 900km interconnector linking South Australia, NSW and Victoria.

“We have already signed with one major landowner near the NSW/South Australian border and we are keen to expand the program to include more properties and communities. We intend to build on this success and we invite landowners to partner with us now,” Stallan said.

In 2019, the NSW Government declared EnergyConnect Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI), making it subject to the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS). This means Transgrid is required to document, via its Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), how project impacts on biodiversity will be avoided and minimised, with the remaining residual impacts to be offset in accordance with the BOS.

Transgrid can achieve these offsets in numerous ways including establishing Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements (BSA), purchasing and/or retiring recognised biodiversity credits, or payment to the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.

“The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) recognise BSAs as the highest level of conservation protection possible on private land and as part of our EIS studies, we have identified a number of areas that may offer biodiversity offsets potential,” Stallan said.

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The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the section of EnergyConnect between the SA/NSW Border to Buronga and Red Cliffs (EnergyConnect West) has been approved by the NSW Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (DPIE). Construction of the Western section is due to begin in first half of 2022.

Transgrid is currently finalising the EIS for the project’s eastern section between Buronga and Wagga. It is expected to be lodged with DPIE this month and published in early 2022. The EIS will outline the potential and likely impacts to a range of environmental aspects including native flora and fauna.

Landowners interested in entering a BSA with Transgrid are encouraged to contact the Offsets Coordination team.