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Project EnergyConnect – Environmental Risk Assessment and Field Investigations

Project EnergyConnect, to be delivered by South Australia’s Transmission Network Service Provider ElectraNet, will see a new high-voltage electricity interconnector directly link the South Australia and New South Wales energy networks for the first time ever.


Linking the two energy networks will mean that renewable solar and wind energy generated in SA will flow into NSW’s grid. Connecting low-cost renewables to the national grid should stabilise National Energy Market (NEM) prices by driving competition, and it will ultimately support Australia’s transition to a low-carbon energy strategy.

Plans for the instalment of the interconnector, the largest project of its kind in Australia to date, began in 2018. These plans have recently reached a significant milestone with the SA Government’s approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Construction work on Project EnergyConnect is now underway.

Fyfe’s role

The approval process for Project EnergyConnect was rigorous and lengthy. Fyfe was pleased to support our client, Downer, by providing a desktop environmental risk assessment and follow up field investigations of the proposed transmission line route.

Desktop environmental risk assessment

To help the parties involved in the project understand the potential for soil contamination and Acid Sulfate Soils (ASS) risks along the proposed transmission line, Fyfe’s environmental scientists conducted a review of publicly available data and information to support with the desktop environmental risk assessment.

Our environmental scientists’ work was a preliminary step in the larger process. We relied upon a range of sources including geotechnical logs provided by our subcontractor CMW Geosciences (CMW), geological and ASS maps, aerial photographs, drainage lines, pH levels, and an understanding of land use, among other resources.

After collecting and reviewing the available data, and pinpointing any potential risks, we collated the information into a detailed report with recommendations for our client.

Field investigation

Following the initial desktop environmental study and identifying areas of potential concern (in particular due to ASS), Fyfe’s SA team conducted a field investigation in the Renmark region.

The presence of ASS can represent an issue as when these soils are disturbed, they may generate high amounts of sulfuric acid, aluminium, iron and even heavy metals. This has a significant impact on the environment and can negatively impact infrastructure. Accordingly, on any project that involves work in areas where ASS may be present, in-depth field investigations are essential and mitigation measures may need to be applied during construction activities, which can be included in a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP).

Fyfe was pleased to support Downer on this exciting project by providing environmental investigation and reporting services, along with geotechnical and surveying services. We will continue to support Downer into the planning and construction phases.

Our highly experienced team of environmental scientists, ecologists and engineers are available to help with a range of environmental services, from management plans, site assessments, remediation and compliance monitoring through to flora and fauna monitoring programs and more.

Please get in touch with us to find out how we can assist your company on its next project.