Lake Borumba shot
5 September, 2023 · 5 MIN READ

What we heard at our Borumba community information sessions

From local jobs to road upgrades to taking the environment seriously, here's the key topics we heard from you.

Queensland Hydro has been out and about over the past few months, talking to locals about the Queensland Government’s recent $6 billion funding decision for our Borumba Pumped Hydro Project. 

In fact, over 150 attendees joined us at community information sessions in Gympie, Imbil, Kilcoy, Nanango, Nambour and Cooroy. If you came along, thank you; your input helps us to make more informed decisions as we embark on the transition to clean energy.

We loved being able to share the project, answer questions and get feedback at these sessions. You asked about a lot of different topics, but here’s the top five.   

Jobs, workforce and supplier opportunities 

As we head into the exploratory phase of the project, workforce and job opportunities are top of mind for local suppliers.  

Is work going to locals?  

Yes, we’re proud to report that 98.2% of total supplier expenditure to date is with local suppliers (as at July 2023).  

How many workers are expected to work on the project?  

We expect up to 200 workers during exploratory works, over 2,000 workers during main works, and approximately 50 ongoing employees once built.  

You may have seen that the Coordinator-General recently issued a works regulation that supports us to build two temporary workers’ accommodation camps. This will minimise impacts on traffic and housing availability as we progress our exploratory works. 

How can suppliers register their interest in the project?  

The best way to stay up to date on upcoming work packages is via the Suppliers page on our website, and ICN Gateway. We’ll be releasing tenders via QTenders.  

Water quality and allocations  

We understand the importance of water availability and reliability. A key project objective is ensuring that existing water users and environmental flows are not impacted.  

Preliminary hydrological studies were completed as part of the Detailed Analytical Report (DAR). As we progress the environmental impact assessment, we'll develop this information in greater detail with further studies, including:  

  • Aquatic ecology 
  • Surface water 
  • Hydrology 
  • Water management  

To learn more about what kinds of surveys were undertaken to inform the DAR, please see our Newsletter #001.   

Upcoming road and traffic improvements  

Residents asked us about the impact of increased traffic on local roads, particularly as we look to commence exploratory works.  

Queensland Hydro has been working with Gympie and Somerset Regional Councils, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, to secure upgrade works. Both Councils will lead the projects on their respective council roads with works commencing in late 2023 and early 2024 respectively.  

The upgrades will include: 

  • Targeted widening and upgrade works including drainage works along Bella Creek Road  
  • Targeted upgrade works including drainage works along Yielo Road 

Public comment on the approvals process 

The Borumba Pumped Hydro Project will require assessment under State and Commonwealth legislation for both the exploratory works and main works.  

Exploratory works 

For exploratory works, Queensland Hydro referred the proposed action to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment determined that the exploratory works are a controlled action requiring assessment via preliminary documentation. Read more about the EPBC assessment approach here

We are currently in the process of responding to the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) request for information on the preliminary documentation. Shortly after, DCCEEW will release the information, and there’ll be a period for public comments. 

Main works 

For main works, we have applied for a coordinated project status under the State Development and Public Works Act 1971 (SDPWO Act) and referred the proposed action under the EPBC Act. If it is determined that the proposed action is a controlled action to be assessed under an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Queensland Hydro has requested that the bilateral agreement between the Australian and Queensland governments apply - resulting in one EIS. Further details on each of these processes are available on the Coordinator-General's website and DCCEEW’s website. 

The EIS will be prepared in accordance with the relevant Project terms of reference. The EIS will provide a comprehensive description of: 

  • the current environment in the area of the project 
  • all potential environmental impacts of the project 
  • proponent proposals to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or offset those potential impacts. 

The impacts include direct, indirect and cumulative impacts resulting from the construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the project. 

We’ve compiled an overview of the approvals process with more detail on the stages here. We’ll have more to share on the approvals process soon, including how an EIS works.  

Protecting our environment  

Like you, environment is important to us. We take our environmental responsibility seriously and we’re committed to implementing measures that minimise adverse impact on local ecosystems and the environment.  

As we develop the project, Queensland Hydro will follow an environmental management hierarchy. This involves implementing measures to avoid or reduce potential impacts to matters of state environmental significance and matters of national environmental significance, as well as socio-economic values. Environmental assessments, along with stakeholder engagement, shapes the way we make these decisions. 

Going forward, we’ll continue to reduce impact where we can. This includes collaboration and partnering with leading experts, conservation groups and Traditional Owners to implement strategies to achieve the objectives of national recovery plans for a range of species – including the spotted-tail quoll and koalas. We’ll also look to implement recommendations in conservation for species which do not currently have a recovery plan in place, such as the Mary River turtle, Mary River cod and native guava.  

To learn more about the findings of our initial surveys, please refer to our ecology poster.  

Understanding what’s next 

We know that a project of this size is complex, and you’re likely to have lots of questions over the coming months. Please reach out to our team so we can address any concerns or provide clarity early.  

Stay informed by signing up to our mailing list, so you can be first to receive news from us. We’ll also be holding community information sessions once a quarter, in addition to distributing our newsletters and running our Stakeholder Reference Group meetings.  

Have we missed a topic, or is there something you’d like to hear about in more detail? Reach out and let us know via borumba@qldhydro.com.au  

First published 5 September 2023.