THE NEW South Wales minister of planning has declared the planned Port Kembla Gas Terminal “Critical State Significant Infrastructure”, because of its importance to the state’s future security and reliability of gas supply.
Port Kembla was chosen as the site for the first liquefied natural gas import terminal in NSW, with Australian Industrial Energy (AIE) signing a memorandum of understanding with NSW Ports earlier in June.
Projects are classified as state-significant due to their size, economic value and potential impacts.
The new state-significant classification for the gas terminal means the project will go through a separate assessment pathway, which will be overseen by the Independent Planning Commission.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said if the project was approved, it could supply 70% of the state’s gas demand and put downward pressure on gas prices across NSW.
“The new Port Kembla terminal would allow for the import of cheaper gas that would increase competition and which has the potential to drive down the state’s gas prices,” he said.
State minister for planning Anthony Roberts said the state currently relies on interstate sources for 95% of its gas supply, and the Australian Energy Market Operator predicts a significant shortfall in gas supply from existing sources from 2018 onwards.
“This shortfall could be worse if there is a greater reliance on gas fired power generation following the planned closure of the Liddell coal fired power station in 2022,” he said.
Despite being declared ‘critical’, the project is still subject to detailed community consultation and a full and thorough environmental assessment in accordance with NSW Government policies and standards.
AIE will now request assessment requirements for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. When received, the EIS will then go on public exhibition for community feedback.
After the consultation period ends, the applicant will address the issues through a response to submissions report, which will be made publicly available on its website.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment will then assess the proposal, taking into account environmental, social and economic impacts, all community and stakeholder submissions received during exhibition, and advice from government and independent experts.
The Department’s recommendation, including any conditions, will be referred to the NSW Minister for Planning for final decision.