Environmental Impact Statement
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a comprehensive document required to identify and address potential impacts of the proposed Project. It includes extensive studies, with modelling and data on areas including water, flora, fauna, soil, noise, air quality, cultural heritage and social impacts. It also incorporates the findings of thorough community and stakeholder consultation.
This information will be used to prepare detailed management and mitigation plans for the Project, allowing Bowen River Utilities (BRU) to provide much needed water security, reliable energy, jobs and food for the communities of Whitsunday, Mackay and Isaac regions.
Technical studies that are being carried out as part of the EIS include:
- Water resources
- Water quality
- Ecology – flora and fauna
- Transport, traffic and access
- Economic impacts
- Social impacts
- Cultural Heritage
- Waste management
- Aesthetics, noise and air
- Hazards, health and safety
- Cumulative impacts.
An essential part of the EIS process involves public consultation with landowners and surrounding communities. Consultation activities will be organised during the EIS in the coming months, including a call for public submissions as part of the exhibition of the Draft EIS report.
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The Coordinator General has declared the Urannah Project to be a coordinated project for which an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required under section 26(1)(a) of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act).
The Urannah Project as declared collectively comprises the construction and operation of the following components, together with supporting ancillary infrastructure and associated works:
- A new dam, a water distribution network including connecting water pipelines and instream distribution and storage of water
- An irrigated agriculture precinct
- A pumped hydro-electric scheme, power generation infrastructure including underground and surface power stations, dams and reservoirs, waterways and power transmission infrastructure.
Further, BRU referred the Urannah Project as three separate proposed actions, consistent with the Urannah Project components, being:
- EPBC 2020/8708 Urannah Dam and Pipelines Project
- EPBC 2020/8709 Collinsville Irrigation Scheme Project
- EPBC 2020/8706 Bowen Renewable Energy Hub Pumped Hydro-electric Scheme
The delegate for the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment decided that the Urannah Project would be assessed as three separate ‘controlled actions’ under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The delegate for the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment also decided that each of the ‘controlled actions’ would be assessed by an accredited assessment process under section 87(4) of the EPBC Act. The EIS process under Part 4 of the SDPWO Act is the accredited assessment process and a single EIS will be prepared which considers the three controlled actions.
The Terms of Reference (TOR) set out the matters BRU is to address in the EIS for the Urannah Project. The ToR provide a statutory basis against which environmental assessment is undertaken and are used to define the purpose and structure of the EIS. The terms of reference ensure that all necessary and relevant environmental values are accounted for and dictate requirements to demonstrate how the project will avoid, minimise and manage impacts and where impacts are unavoidable offsets.