Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved a large-scale wind and solar renewable energy project in the Pilbara, the Asian Renewable Energy Hub.
EPA chair Dr Tom Hatton said the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub comprised a series of onshore wind turbines and solar panels situated about 220 kilometres east of Port Hedland, with a transmission cable corridor to the coast and subsea cables to the edge of state waters.
“The EPA has completed its assessment of NW Interconnected Power’s proposal to construct and operate a large-scale renewable energy project with an expected operational lifespan of 50 years.
“One of the key environmental issues the EPA considered was the proposed clearing of 11,962 hectares of native vegetation, and its potential impact on fauna habitat, flora and vegetation. The EPA also considered the potential impact from the construction and operation of four subsea cables on benthic communities and habitat, marine environmental quality and marine fauna.
“Fire management was also considered a key issue, with a staged fire management strategy proposed to monitor the potential impacts and benefits of a landscape-scale prescribed burns program.”EPA chair Dr Tom Hatton.
The wind turbines are 26 kilometres away from Eighty Mile Beach and 13 kilometres from Mandora Marsh.
The proposal involves the construction of up to 1,743 wind turbines, solar panels, above and below ground transmission cables and four subsea power cables, covering an onshore and offshore development envelope of 662,400 hectares.
The EPA recommended that the proposal be implemented, subject to conditions including consultation on management plans with relevant stakeholders, including traditional land owners.
he EPA’s report on the Asian Renewable Energy Hub to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing 18 May 2020.
The Minister for Environment will make the final decision on the proposal.