An Australian-first “energy recovery” project being assessed at Lithgow would create around 300 direct and indirect jobs during peak construction and provide a $3.7 million boost to the local economy from ongoing operations, according to a two-year study of the proposal’s impacts.
The findings are included in an environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared by the proponents of the project, EnergyAustralia and Re.Group. The EIS is now on public display for community review and feedback in this current stage before a final investment decision is considered later this year.
The proposed energy recovery project involves constructing a plant at the existing Mt Piper power station which will use discarded and non-recyclable every-day materials that would otherwise go to landfill, such as types of paper (e.g., coffee cups), plastics and fabrics, to generate electricity for 40,000 New South Wales homes.
“In the past two years we’ve spoken to hundreds of stakeholders and done dozens of studies to understand the project’s impact on the community, economy, environment and local heritage,” said EnergyAustralia Head of Mt Piper Greg McIntyre. “While there’s still more work to be done, we’re very pleased we found ways to manage, mitigate or avoid the impacts identified.
“What’s also encouraging is that if we are to go ahead, there are significant community benefits on offer, including the creation of jobs and an annual boost to the local economy worth several million dollars,” he said.
Re.Group Managing Director David Singh said: “Re.Group is a recycling company, but some of the materials discarded by modern society simply cannot be recycled through the ‘yellow bin’ or made into compost through the ‘green bin’. This project will use systems that are internationally proven to safely recover energy from material that would otherwise go to landfill in NSW.”
According to the energy recovery project EIS, the development would involve a capital investment around $170 million, create 140 construction jobs and up to 300 direct and indirect roles during peak activity. When completed in 2023, the project will support 16 new, permanent jobs and contribute at least $3.7 million to the region each year from local wages and the purchase of goods and services needed for operations and maintenance.
At full capacity, the project will process around 200,000 tonnes of household waste a year that would otherwise go to landfill and instead use it as fuel to generate 30 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power the equivalent of the Lithgow and Blue Mountains local government areas combined.
Greg thanked the community for providing its support and feedback during the EIS process. The input was used to identify key community concerns and to develop measures to mitigate, or avoid entirely, impacts and to maximise benefits.
Traffic and transport, air quality, noise, ash management and visual impacts were raised during consultation. The EIS sets out measures to minimise these impacts in line with community expectations and regulatory requirements and guidelines.
Specialist consultant Environmental Resources Management Australia prepared the energy recovery EIS. To keep track of the project, make a comment about the EIS or contribute a submission, go to: http://www.re-group.com/mtpiperenergyrecovery/
Notes to editors:
- An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) describes the potential impacts and benefits of a project on the environment, local communities and the economy, how those impacts will be minimised or avoided, and how benefits will be maximised.
- EnergyAustralia and Re.Group personnel worked with external expert consultants to coordinate studies to inform the EIS and to prepare the documentation. Specialist input was sought to gather or collate baseline data, assess impacts and recommend management and monitoring measures.
- The EIS process confirmed socioeconomic benefits from an energy recovery project at the Mt Piper power station included:
- The creation of up to 140 construction jobs, including labourers, tradespeople, construction supervisors, technicians and plant operators, and potentially 300 direct and indirect jobs during peak construction in 2022.
- Post-construction an ongoing boost of at least $3.7 million to the local economy from the purchase of goods and services needed to operate and maintain the project.
- A total 16 permanent operational roles as well as additional employment in supporting industries, such as transport, maintenance and RDF production across New South Wales.
- Engagement with project stakeholders was an integral part of the EIS process, allowing EnergyAustralia and Re.Group to take account of issues and concerns important to the local community. Information gathered was fed into engineering and design works.
- In addition to consultation with local and state authorities, agencies and interest groups, the proponents received around 200 individual responses to a survey of community attitudes toward the project, did 30 face-to-face meetings and held eight open information forums in the greater Lithgow area.
- The EIS identified community concerns to do with traffic and transport, air quality, noise, ash management and visual impacts.
- The EIS sets out how the proponents will minimise environmental, social and economic impacts in accordance with regulatory requirements and guidelines including compliance with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority Energy from Waste policy.
- Got a question on the energy recovery project? Email firstname.lastname@example.org