Snowy 2.0 is Environmental Vandalism

Yesterday’s Environmental Impact Statement for Snowy 2.0 proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park.

The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) has expressed complete dismay at the severe and permanent impacts on Kosciusko National Park signalled by yesterday’s release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Snowy 2.0 ‘Main Works’.

An initial view of the 1000’s of pages of the EIS show the extent of environmental destruction is overwhelming, including:

  1. A ‘disturbance area’ of 2000 ha (20 square kilometres) along a 40 km corridor of largely undisturbed native alpine bush in Kosciuszko National Park.  (That’s 5 times the size of Lane Cove National Park). 
  2. Dumping 9 million cubic metres of excavated rock spoil, some of which has naturally occurring asbestos and acid forming rock.  (That’s enough spoil to fill a football field to a height of nearly 2 km or a chain of 100,000 B-double trucks extending 3000 km – Sydney to Perth).
  3. Dumping spoil in various locations in the Park, including Tantangara and Talbingo Reservoirs, thereby reducing their active storage capacities
  4. Significant reductions in groundwater and stream flows along the route of the 27 km tunnel
  5. Major issues with transfer of pest fish
  6. 100 km of upgraded and new roads and tracks
  7. Three accommodation camps and works areas, with the Lob’s Hole area disturbing bush along 6 km of the Yarrangobilly River”

NPA Executive Officer, Gary Dunnett, stated “it is a travesty that the EIS has been released 7 months after the commencement of construction[1] and 2½ years since Snowy 2.0 was announced by then Prime Minister Turnbull.

“The slow disclosure of the full extent of Snowy Hydro’s planned environmental damage to Kosciusko National Park seems designed to establish the project as a done deal and avoid any real consideration of lower impact alternatives.

Mr Dunnett noted that:

  • the Snowy Hydro Board has made its Final Investment Decision (12 December 2018)
  • the Commonwealth Government has approved the project and provided a $1.4 billion subsidy (26 February 2019)
  • Snowy Hydro has awarded a $5.1 billion contract for Civil and Electro-mechanical Works (5 April 2019)
  • and, most appallingly, construction commenced in February 2019.

“This total disregard for the environmental assessment process is even more reprehensible for such a huge infrastructure project within a National Park.”

“Snowy 2.0 should not even be contemplated in the first place, due to its substantial, permanent damage to Kosciuszko National Park.”

“NPA will be reviewing the latest EIS, though we already know that Snowy 2.0 is the largest, most damaging development by far ever proposed for a NSW National Park, let alone one in the sensitive alpine habitats of Kosciusko”.

Mr Dunnett stated that “Such extensive damage to a national park is reason enough to scrap the project. 

“Also, the EIS for the four 330 kV high voltage transmission lines to transport electricity to and from Snowy 2.0 has yet to be released (expected later this year).  These lines will traverse 10 km of Kosciuszko National Park on side-by-side, twin-towers cutting a 120 m wide easement swathe through the alpine vegetation.

“Snowy 2.0 has been portrayed as a silver bullet for resolving the future electricity market and the transfer to renewable energy.”

“But, not only is Snowy 2.0 environmental vandalism, it isn’t economic.  The original $2 billion cost estimate is now approaching $10 billion (including transmission).”

“Pumped hydro unquestionably has an important role to play in our future energy mix. That doesn’t mean that every pumped hydro project has acceptable environmental credentials, and Snowy 2.0 is simply the wrong project in the wrong place.  There are many better energy storage options that are more efficient, less costly and much less damaging to the environment.

“Snowy 2.0 doesn’t stack up environmentally or economically” Mr Dunnett concluded.


Media inquiries: Gary Dunnett, NPA Executive Officer 9299 0000

[1] Mr Broad, Managing Director of Snowy Hydro Ltd, recently confirmed that construction is proceeding apace, and major equipment has been ordered:

“For those naysayers who keep saying perhaps Snowy 2.0 isn’t going to happen: sorry, it’s started and for something not happening there sure is a lot of action happening.  The diggers are digging, the financing is being lined up and the tunnel boring machines have been ordered.  It’s all on track.”

“Behind Snowy’s battery bet“. The Australian 14 September 2019