STATE SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT
The Thunderbolt Energy Hub project is considered to be a State Significant Development (SSD), which means that it will be assessed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in accordance with relevant planning policies and legislation.
Thunderbolt Energy Hub Stage 1 is currently in the Response to Submissions (RTS) phase.
The NSW SSD Planning Process that must be followed involves a number of stages, namely:
- Scoping: Submission of a Scoping Report to DPIE by Neoen;
- SEARs: Provision of the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) by DPE to Neoen;
- Preparation of EIS: Specialists undertake detailed surveys and assessments in accordance with the SEARs to understand the potential impacts of the project. This allows Neoen to update the wind farm and solar farm layouts to minimise these impacts. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report is prepared.
- EIS Submission: Neoen submits the EIS report to the NSW DPE for assessment.
- Public exhibition: The EIS (Development Application) will be on public exhibition for at least 28 days;
- Response to submissions: Neoen will respond to the submissions;
- Assessment: NSW DPE will assess the Development Application including submission;
- Determination: Final determination of the Development Application by a delegate of the NSW Minister of Planning or the Independent Planning Commission.
Please refer to the NSW DPE’s website to learn more about the NSW SSD Planning Process.
Neoen lodged two Scoping Reports to NSW DPIE in November 2020, one for the wind farm and one for the solar farm and battery. These reports provide preliminary information about the proposed project, including:
- A description of the land that the project is proposed on;
- A preliminary wind turbine layout;
- A preliminary solar area;
- Information about the potential impacts and benefits of the project;
- Outcomes of preliminary desktop studies undertaken; and
- The outcomes of community and stakeholder consultation undertaken to date.
Please refer to the NSW DPE’s Major Projects portal or the Documents page to view the Wind Farm Scoping Report and Solar Farm Scoping Report.
Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS)
NSW DPE reviewed the Scoping Report and issued a list of all the requirements that Neoen and specialist consultants must address, called the called the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). The SEARs include feedback from local Councils and Government agencies regarding these requirements. The SEARs were issued in December 2020 and are also published on the NSW DPE’s Major Projects portal.
The SEARs will inform the next stage of the project – the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed wind and solar farm.
Please refer to the NSW DPE’s Major Projects portal or the Documents page to view the Wind Farm SEARs and Solar Farm SEARs.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
Neoen has engaged Umwelt as Lead Planner for the project as well as other specialist consultants to undertake the specialist studies required on this project. The ecology studies were undertaken over two years between 2020 and 2022 and were undertaken throughout the different seasons of the year to capture specific flora and fauna species. Some of the main studies included:
- Seasonal ecological surveys;
- Visual impact assessment;
- Noise impact assessment;
- Aboriginal Heritage assessment;
- Traffic and Transport assessment;
- Hazards, for example flooding and bushfire
- Aviation Safety
Community consultation will continue throughout 2022 with the support of Neoen’s community liaison consultant Anne-Marie Ward. If you would like to share your feedback with us on the project, please contact us to arrange a one-on-one meeting or fill in our feedback survey.
Neoen submitted the EIS for Thunderbolt Energy Hub Stage 1 to NSW DPE in early 2022 to request Development Application (DA) approval. The EIS was placed on public exhibition for 28 days to allow the community and agencies to provide formal submissions. The next step is for Neoen to respond to the submissions received in the Response to Submissions (RTS) report. NSW DPE will then assess the EIS and provide their determination. The project will subsequently also be referred to the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for approval.