The North Coast Environment Council renewed its calls for renewable energy projects to be built without further land-clearing.
In a submission to the Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro Scheme, the NCEC objected to the clearing of 440 ha of identified wilderness and numerous other impacts, many of which have not been quantified by the proponents. Oven Mountain is between Kempsey and Armidale.
“We support renewable energy projects where they don’t involve the destruction of forests and threatened species habitats,” said Ashley Love a spokesperson for the NCEC.
“The Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro site is steep forested slopes. It is land that as far back as the Wran Government in 1985 was identified as an important component of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. If the land were added to the National Park uses it would give people accessible river access.
“We are concerned that this proposal hasn’t adequately looked at the climate risks. What happens when there is no water? The Kempsey water supply is vulnerable to drought. The Government’s climate modelling is years behind our lived reality. They are planning on a 1.5 degree global temperature rise by 2060, when there is a high likelihood earth will cross that threshold next year.
“With more than 2 million tonnes of rock needing to be drilling out, we’re also concerned about the leaching of Arsenic and Antimony into the river system. We know that those elements are present in the rock and have contaminated the Macleay river in the past, which has been particularly disastrous for the upstream communities.
Mr Love also said that the Council were concerned about the short time frame for public comment for such a significant proposal. There was no presentation by the proponent to a community meeting, where people had a chance to hear concerns raised by community members.
He also said that insufficient information had been supplied for the community to have confidence in the business case or the viability of the project as information on this was deemed ‘commercial in confidence’. “But we know that in many ways it is the community that picks up the tab when costs blow out, as we’ve seen in the Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro Project.”
“We need to have confidence that this is a genuine solution that isn’t going to damage the environment. At the moment, we don’t have that confidence,” he said.
Submissions on the proposal closed today.