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NEREZ - the Region is about to change whether we like it or not

The release by EnergyCo this week of documents related to the first phase of the New England Renewable Energy Zone (NE REZ) signals the start of significant change for this region. These changes will have both positive and negative effects for this community as the 20-year build gets underway.

“The scope of this project is unlike anything we have seen in living memory, however, it is a State Significant Development which means decisions around planning are solely the domain of the State Government,” Mayor Sam Coupland said.

“As a community we can’t hide from the fact that a REZ brings with it some significant challenges for our regions that we will need to manage.” 

As Founding Chair of the Coalition of Renewable Energy Mayors (CoREM), Mayor Coupland has been working with other Councils to ensure that local needs are recognised and to help begin to shape each REZ to minimise downsides and leverage potential upsides.

“Whilst the majority of renewable projects will be located outside the Armidale LGA, as the largest city in the REZ, Armidale has the greatest capacity to host the thousands of construction workers and will effectively be the epicentre,” he said

“On the surface that is great news, but it comes with challenges.

“At a local level during the early stages there is likely to be social friction around the location of projects and the permanent changes to our landscape they bring. As projects are approved by the State Government and move to the construction phase we will need to manage accommodation and skills shortages and the additional pressure on community infrastructure.

“The construction phase will likely last many years and provide a significant boost to the local economy. Armidale Regional Council will be exploring post construction opportunities to build on the renewables projects – for example green hydrogen production, recycling, circular economies and so on.

“Opportunities exist to partner with renewables companies to solve mutual problems such as housing supply and road infrastructure as well as utilise our recent acquisition of Oaky Dam as a renewable energy generator.

“Council is working on options to ensure the wave of renewable developments will deliver real multi-generational benefits to the community, not just during the construction phase.”

Background (see: NEREZ Project Overview):

  • Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) has released its preliminary study corridor for the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

  • This first ‘deliver now’ phase anticipates 6GW of network capacity to be delivered by 2033 with the majority of the infrastructure in the southern part of the New England REZ around Walcha and Uralla with a smaller portion in the Armidale LGA.

  • Construction of transmission lines will begin in 2026 with energy flowing into the national grid in 2029 as individual energy generators come on line.

  • CoREM incorporates Mayors from the New England REZ (Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell Uralla, Walcha); the Central West Orana REZ (Mid Western, Warrumbungle, Gilgandra, Blayney, Dubbo); the Hunter REZ (Singleton, Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook) as well as neighbouring LGA’s such as Tamworth

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