Renewable energy advocates welcome the demise of a planned gas-fired industrial precinct at Narrabri.
The Narrabri “Special Activation Precinct” (SAP) was announced alongside former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s “Strategic Opportunities for Gas” in 2020 and was envisioned as a local demand source for gas from Santos’ Narrabri project in the Pilliga Forest.
However, last month, the NSW Government quietly cancelled the Narrabri SAP, with the project’s website noting it would “not proceed” following a review into whether “capital expenditure delivers maximum benefits to citizens of NSW and is aligned with the government’s strategic objectives and priorities”. Instead, the government says it is rezoning land for a “light industrial” development, along with more housing.
Lock the Gate previously criticised the gas-fed precinct for being out of step with federal climate goals.
The demise of the Narrabri SAP comes after APA Group abandoned its Western Slopes pipeline, now leaving Santos with only one option to transport any gas it may produce in the Pilliga to market - the Hunter Gas Pipeline (HGP).
But the HGP is facing mounting opposition from local landholders. Last week, it was revealed a company associated with a land access management company contracting for Santos had quietly purchased farmland on the Liverpool Plains and had begun preparing the site for the delivery of pipeline equipment weeks before it was given approval to commence “laydown activities” by the State Government.
Meanwhile, Narrabri locals continue to plan for an industrial estate in Narrabri that can create new jobs and businesses for the region, based on renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy advocate and Narrabri Shire Councillor Rohan Boehm said the demise of the gas-fed precinct was a step in the right direction for the region.
"Now that gas is officially off the list in Narrabri, this can be replaced immediately with a new vision for our shire: new industry and new high-value jobs driven by new technologies and new industries.," he said.
"I welcome any plans for a large and integrated industrial precinct in Narrabri. This can be powered by many forms of renewable energy with battery storage and new grid connections.
“I certainly hope this proposed new industrial precinct is developed with renewable energy that suits many types of new industry.
“Our region, our towns and communities will benefit most from diverse industries and the new jobs that renewable energy provides. This is the most certain way forward to a prosperous future.”
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Nic Clyde said, “The former government was mad to suggest building an industrial precinct entirely reliant on fossil fuels. Renewables are here now, and unlike expensive gas, fuel costs for wind and solar are zero.”
“Santos ought to cut its losses and abandon the Narrabri Gas Project before it wastes any more money. The Narrabri precinct was designed to create an artificial demand for Santos’ gas. It’s no surprise that this review has found it is not needed.
“Narrabri’s future, starting now, is based on sustainable farming and renewable energy, not Santos’ dirty polluting coal seam gas. We are already seeing local initiatives, such as Geni.Energy creating a locally driven, renewable powered future for the region.”
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Other regional businesses are looking to power their operations with clean energy alternatives. For example, the fertiliser industry is beginning to pivot to low-emissions alternatives to gas, which is why the NSW Government recently spent $36M on a partnership between green hydrogen company Hiringa Energy and the Sundown Pastoral Co to construct and operate a renewable ammonia and green hydrogen production facility on a cotton farm near Moree.