ActewAGL, in collaboration with alliance partner Zinfra, has completed the architecturally significant East Lake GIS (gas insulated switchgear) Substation, which was designed to blend in with the local environment.
The ACT Government specifically requested the development not adversely impact the look and feel of the local area. As a result, the 132kV feeders have been undergrounded and mature trees have have been planted around the substation. Specific colours and shapes similar to that found in nearby wetlands were also chosen as part of the design to help partially conceal the development.
Situated adjacent to the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve – a species-rich urban wetland that provides refuge for migratory birds as well as resident native birds – Zinfra project manager Matt Fensom said the environmental planning process was comprehensive and demanding.
“We had to run underground conduits, pull and join 132kV cables for two 1.5km feeders within the wetlands itself. With the rangers on constant patrol, if you did something out of step, you’d know within the hour!” Mr Fensom said.
“One of the main conditions was the timing. The works in the wetlands had to be completed between April and the end of September 2013 so as not to interfere with the bird breeding season.
“There was no significant or long lasting environmental damage and the collaborative efforts with ActewAGL’s project team has seen the on time and under budget delivery of this important new addition to the ACT electricity network.”
Zinfra was also required to conduct heritage assessments for Indigenous artefacts and soil dating, as well as checks for contaminated material.
Being a semi-rural environment, the company was also required to consider local landowners, one of who had an agistment near the wetlands.
“We got on really well with the landowner. We sat down and asked him at the outset what was important to him and how we could meet his expectations,” Mr Fensom said.