Feds blasted over Pilbara hub call

Danielle Raffaele & Stuart McKinnonNorth West Telegraph
Minister Alannah MacTiernan addresses the media over the Carnegie collapse.
Camera IconMinister Alannah MacTiernan addresses the media over the Carnegie collapse. Credit: The West Australian, Sharon Smith The West Australian

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan has blasted the Federal Government for failing to consult the WA Government over changes to a proposed Asian renewable energy hub in the East Pilbara.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley last week refused to sign off on the project, 220km east of Port Hedland, on the basis it went against terms of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act.

In a statement, Ms Ley said proposed action to facilitate a large-scale wind and solar renewable energy project would have a “clearly unacceptable” environmental impact.

The rejection came just one month after the proponent submitted its application.

Beginning in 2014, the green energy initiative had the backing of traditional owners and WA Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. Development was expected to create more that 7000 full-time jobs and up to 20,000 indirect jobs during construction.

Speaking at the Pilbara Summit 2021 last week, Ms MacTiernan echoed Premier Mark McGowan’s rebuke, who said it was “beyond us” why the Commonwealth would not back the project.

“Normally we would have expected the Federal Government to do as they did with the Adani coal mine — you know, four years of working with coal to get that initial approval,” Ms MacTiernan said. “But in this case, they just said ‘nah’.”

A Federal Government spokesperson said the decision was due to environmental impacts to significant sites including the Eighty Mile Beach Ramsar site and migratory animals, including waterbirds. The AREH has projected a final development decision be made by 202,5 with construction starting in 2026. An AREH project spokesperson said the concerns would be addressed.

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