Central West Pumped Hydro Project Update - March 2023

April 5, 2023

Central West Pumped Hydro Project Update - March 2023

Environmental Impact Statement submission update

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is much more than a process for obtaining an environmental permit or licence. It aims to avoid, minimise or offset the environmental and social impact of the proposed development project.


The Central West Pumped Hydro Project’s(CWPH) EIS is a significant piece of work comprising of detailed assessment of potential environmental, heritage, social and economic impacts.


For close to two years now, the project team has been continuously working to complete the EIS, which has included an independent review by a Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioner, with the aim to deliver a high quality document that is capable of meeting the regulators' requirements.


ATCO is also in the process of optimising a number of elements of the pumped hydro facility's design as the result of a detailed engineering review process, which is in its final stages.


The timing of the EIS submission to the Department of Planning and Environment has been adjusted to incorporate the detail from the engineering design review process. This will see the submission of the EIS made around mid-2023.


We will continue to engage with landowners,the community and interested groups, and keep you informed of the submission status.


Recipients of ATCO's 2023 Communities Fund announced

We know that when communities thrive, everyone benefits, which is why ATCO is committed to supporting and empowering individuals, groups and organisations where we live, work and operate. Since2018, the ATCO Communities Fund has supported more than 80 community projects throughout Australia.


Not-for-profit groups and organisations who could demonstrate sound financial management, high levels of community support, and alignment to projects and initiatives that support healthy,sustainable and prosperous communities were encouraged to apply for funding up to $10,000 for projects and initiatives taking place in 2023.


“We are thrilled with the recipients of the2023 ATCO Communities Fund and feel privileged to join them on their journey as they establish and grow projects that support their local communities,” said Jen Kluken, Manager Social Sustainability.


Congratulations to the following local recipients of the 2023 Communities Fund:

  • Bathurst Early Childhood Intervention Service Inc - Fostering a Healthy, Sustainable and Prosperous BECIS Community
  • VeritasHouse - Healthy Meals for young people living independently
  • The Shepherd Centre for deaf children -Educating local health and educational professionals to build the speech andlistening skills of deaf children
  • Yetholme NSW Rural Fire Service Brigade - Yetholme RFS Shed upgrades
  • Boys to the Bush Ltd – Boys to Bush program support.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment (ACHA) of the CWPH site has been carried out in accordance with the Guide to Investigating Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in NSW(OEH, 2011) and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents (DECCW, 2010).

The establishment of the Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) was a key priority of the assessments team using the following process:

  • In May 2021, the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council, Native Title Tribunal and Heritage NSW were notified of the proposed  development  and  assisted  ATCO  to  identify Indigenous groups and organisations that could potentially have links to the Project site. 22 Aboriginal stakeholder groups were identified and contacted directly, inviting them to register their interest in participating in the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment for the Project.
  • As a result of this process, five groups became RAPs for the Project,including Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council.
  • A virtual workshop (due to COVID) was held in July 2021 to introduce the Project and ATCO, and agree the methodology for the ACHA.
  • Aboriginal cultural heritage surveys have been carried out by an independent specialist consulting group, Niche Environmental and Heritage (Niche), with RAP representatives surveying the site in 2021, 2022 and, more recently, in February 2023.
  • The ACHA report has been drafted by Niche and has been reviewed by the RAPs and updated to reflect their input,which also involved a workshop held in 2022 to discuss the draft report and draft recommendations. It will be finalised after a further review by the RAPs and submitted as part of the Project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Indigenous peoples' cultural values have been a key focus since the Project's inception. Together with the RAPs, ATCO will develop mitigation measures for any Aboriginal objects that may be impacted,including potential new finds during construction. This will be formalised through an Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan which be developed in consultation with the RAPs.


The RAPs will also be involved with ongoing consultation throughout the life of the Project, specifically:

  • Provide cultural awareness training as part of the Project’s site induction;
  • Be involved in monitoring for cultural heritage during ground disturbance activities during Project construction; and
  • Be involved in how they wish to manage cultural heritage found on site.

Toni lee Scott, CEO of Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council (BLALC) said, "ATCO engaged with the BLALC in2021. We have been involved with development of the ACHA report, which has included representatives visiting the site to conduct surveys, as well as reviewing the report and draft management plans. We are happy with ATCO's approach, and thoroughness of the assessment."

CWPH website launched

The CWPH website was launched early in the year, allowing members of the community and project stakeholders to access detailed information to familiarise themselves with the Project and access the latest news.


The new website provides a great amount of information, from high-level project overviews to in- depth community FAQs, and provides easy access to project updates, the EIS (once submitted), and links to Government agency planning portals to follow the progress of the approvals process.


“The dedicated CWPH site in its current first phase, is designed to provide an approachable introduction to the project,while giving the project its own distinct brand. We’ll soon look to enhance the site with longer form and interactive content, more videos and a rendered visualisation of the project as we continue to build on the website."Peter Shaw, Manager Customer Experience and Business Improvement explained.


You can visit the CWPH website at centralwestpumpedhydro.com.au

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for your contribution, feedback and interestin the CWPH Project. It's been great to welcome so many people from thecommunity at the Bathurst Office over the past few months who were interestedin the Project, had specific questions, or just wanted to know what it is all about.


For more information please visit the CWPH website at www.centralwestpumpedhydro.com or reach out to us at centralwesthydro@atco.com or by phone: 1800 94 79 79.


ATCO’s Office at 1-52 Keppel Street, Bathurst is open from Monday -Thursday during business hours. We look forward to welcoming you and having a chat.