Jul 17, 2017

Push to revive Tully Millstream hydro scheme

Push to revive Tully Millstream hydro scheme A test tunnel at the Tully Millstream Hydroelectric Scheme site.

It is time to revisit the proposed Tully Millstream Hydroelectric Scheme (TMHS), north-west of Tully, says local MP Andrew Cripps.

The State Member for Hinchinbrook, who is also Opposition spokesman for Natural Resources, Mines and Northern Development, has written to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce requesting Australian Government support for an updated feasibility study for the project.

“I strongly believe this project has great merit.  A serious feasibility study has not been undertaken since the late 1980s,” Mr Cripps said.

“The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) undertook a full technical study, which was completed in 1988.

Member for Hinchinbrook Andrew Cripps.

“Sadly, the declaration of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (in which the project would be partially located) in late 1988 by the Commonwealth Government, resulted in the scheme not being progressed, due to perceived environmental concerns.”

Mr Cripps said there was a deep and sustained level of resentment in North Queensland that the region had been robbed of a major piece of economic infrastructure and the benefits that would have flowed from it.

The Tully Millstream Hydroelectric Scheme would involve creek diversions from the Tully and Herbert River basins into two new dams (Wooroora and Nitchaga).

A 600MW station would be constructed underground between Koombooloomba Dam and the Tully River.

Mr Cripps said updated feasibility work for the project would factor in:

  • Contemporary construction and hydro turbine standards;
  • Contemporary environmental regulatory parameters;
  • How the project would interact with the current national electricity market;
  • How the project would interact with current electricity demand trends;
  • How the project would interact with current electricity transmission infrastructure;
  • Options for technical variations, or variations in scale or scope of the original scheme;
  • Potential opportunities for irrigated agriculture, tourism and recreation; and,
  • An updated estimate of base case costings.

The Australian Government’s stated commitment to developing Northern Australia, its commitment to hydroelectricity, and a shift in the environmental debate to focus on a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy meant the time was ripe to revisit the issue, he said.

“As a north Queenslander and a north Queensland MP, I have waited a long time for the policy agenda to suit a serious proposal to revive the TMHS,” Mr Cripps said.

“I believe that time is now.  Another generation of north Queenslanders should not be denied the opportunity to benefit from this major piece of economic infrastructure. ”